Sometimes known as peel or rind, the coloured outer layer of citrus rind eg lemon, orange or lime, that contains the essential oil that gives the fruit its distinctive flavour. A small amount of zest gives a strong characteristic flavour of the fruit.
Citrus zest is used extensively in sweet or savoury dishes wherever the flavour of citrus fruit is required, eg lemon meringue pie, fruit salads, soufflés, ice creams and mousses; mixed with breadcrumbs and olive oil as a topping for fish, in sauces and casseroles.
Lemon zest can be used in place of chopped lemon grass - use the zest of 1 lemon instead of 2 stalks of fresh lemon grass in a recipe.
Zest can be grated from fruit using the fine side of a standard grater - be careful to only remove the coloured zest and not the white pith underneath which imparts a bitter flavour, the best way to avoid this happening is to turn the fruit frequently when grating. Alternatively use a zester - a small tool which efficiently removes the zest by running it down the skin of the fruit.