This zippy Lime Crema is a great recipe to have in your kitchen repertoire. It takes just a couple minutes to make and it comes with the potential for a lifetime of flavor upgrades.
Sure, it’s a perfect fit for the Baja Fish Tacos from last week, but once you get familiar with the various incarnations you’ll be able to use it on a wide range of dishes.
It’s also easy to make a guilt-free version of this Crema, i.e. yogurt based, so I’ll list options for that as well.
Lime Crema Recipe
Before we start, it’s worth pointing out that this recipe lies smack dab in the middle of the Mexican Crema spectrum.
Most regions and taquerias have their own version of Mexican Crema that they believe to be the real deal. As with most things though, it usually depends on what you grew up with.
On one end of the spectrum is a home-cultured Mexican Crema. Add some buttermilk to heavy cream, let it rest overnight, and the next day you’ve got a thick, flavorful delight. Add some lime juice and salt, thin it out with some water if necessary, and you’ve got a delish Mexican Crema on your hands.
I don’t make that version as often as I used to because it takes, uhmmm, planning! You can see details on that process here.
Luckily the version we’re making today eschews the 24 hour waiting period and offers up equally rewarding results NOW.
Here’s our starting ingredient list:
1 cup mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)
juice of 1 lime (plus more to taste)
1/4 serrano pepper
1 garlic clove
pinch of salt (plus more to taste)
handful of cilantro (optional)
splash of water
Add everything to a blender and give it a good whirl:
And now the most important part…take a taste! Salt really brightens up this sauce so feel free to add another pinch or two. I added another generous pinch along with a final squeeze of lime.
Similar to our Chipotle Mayo, if you want a lighter version you can substitute out some of the mayo for plain Greek yogurt.
Just keep in mind that adding in a bit of fat (mayo or cream) will give you an instant upgrade in flavor if you use yogurt as the base. For example, a ratio I often use is 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup mayo (or 1 tablespoon heavy cream). This is a lighter version but it offers up nearly all of the taste benefits of the all-mayo version.
And while cilantro might sound like a natural addition to this Crema, I like it best when the lime flavor is at the forefront so you can consider it optional.
Lime Crema is a natural fit for seafood, but you can use it as a final touch on just about anything, including the above chicken tacos.
It’s also worth noting you can transform this crema into a creamy green delight by simply adding avocado to it.
And to complete our journey across the Mexican Crema spectrum, there is one final option you can keep in mind for emergencies. Simply add lime juice to sour cream, thin it out with water if necessary, and taste for seasoning. I find this version lackluster but it can be used in a pinch.
One last thing…the serrano gives this Lime Crema some real heat, but you can always dial back on the heat by limiting the serrano (or omitting it altogether). And feel free to use jalapenos if you don’t have serranos. Serranos are smaller and sharper, and they can be a more efficient way to add heat, but you can get the same effect from jalapenos.
Okay, let me know if you have any questions about this Lime Crema — it takes a minimal amount of fiddling to find the right balance for your taste buds and it comes with a lifetime worth of flavor upgrades!
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Here's an easy recipe for a zippy version of Lime Crema. If you use yogurt as the base it's worth adding in a bit of fat (mayo or cream) as it will vastly improve the flavor. So good!
- 1 cup mayonnaise (or plain Greek yogurt)
- juice of 1 lime (plus more to taste)
- 1/4 serrano pepper
- 1 garlic clove
- pinch of salt (plus more to taste)
- handful of cilantro (optional)
- splash of water
Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and combine well. Add a splash of water if it isn't combining well.
Taste for seasoning and heat. I added another pinch of salt and another squeeze of lime to this batch.
You can substitute plain Greek yogurt for the mayo. Just keep in mind that adding in a bit of fat (mayo or cream) will give it an instant upgrade in flavor if you use yogurt as the base. For example, a ratio I often use is 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup mayo (or 1 tablespoon heavy cream).
You can substitute jalapeno for the serrano.
Pssst….here are some great Cinco de Mayo recipes for this weekend. Enjoy!