Charred Lemons Are The New Food Trend

Charred lemons have untapped potential

Lemons are like an Instagram filter for food: A squeeze of juice or a bit of zest can enliven almost any dish.

Chefs sometimes manipulate the citrus to make it an even more dexterous workhorse. Preserved lemons, for example, have taken menus by storm.

But for lemon-focused mastery that doesn't require months of patience, consider the char: Give your lemon a quick kiss of heat before you squeeze the juice into your favorite dish.

We enjoyed the technique in Denver at The Kitchen, where a blistered lemon wedge supplied robust acidity and concentrated floral sweetness to a plate of raw oysters.

In New York City, at Seamus Mullen's Tertulia, lemons spend time on the open wood-fire grill, and are then served alongside a plate of grilled vegetables. Sprayed over baby artichokes, the juice brought the thistle's inherent grassiness to the fore.

To try it at home, simply slice a lemon in half crosswise and place the halves cut-side down on a hot grill or pan. Let them cook until they begin to char, about five minutes. Then remove them from the heat and use the juice in anything from vinaigrette to a bowl of rich pasta.