The citrus fruit of top chefs
Even though it looks like a normal citrus fruit at first glance, the yuzu enjoys great popularity in top gastronomy and Japanese cuisine. Anyone who has tried the Asian citrus fruit knows that its aroma is far more complex than that of an ordinary lemon. This is precisely why it is so well suited for refining various dishes. It adds an exotic and fresh note to dishes and products. Find out how it differs from other citrus fruits and how to use yuzu properly in the kitchen here.
A fruit with tradition
The yuzu, or “Citrus Junos”, is a hybrid citrus plant. More precisely, it is a mixture of mandarin and the ancient “Ichang Papeda”. It originates from China and Tibet, but is now mainly cultivated in Japan, China and Korea. Between the 7th and 9th century, it gained great popularity in Japan and Korea and since then it is hard to imagine Japanese and Korean cuisine without it. Even ancient Japanese traditions revolve around the exotic citrus fruit: On the cold nights of the winter solstice, the so-called toji, a hot bath enriched with yuzu slices is traditionally taken. This is said to increase both mental and physical wellbeing.
Lemon, grapefruit or mandarine?
As it is typical for citrus fruits, the yuzu also grows on a tree. The special feature, however, is that it has to ripen for 10 years before it can finally be harvested. If it really cools down within this very long period of time, it is not a big deal. The yuzu can survive exceptionally cold temperatures of up to -9°C. When the fruit is finally ripe, its appearance often poses a mystery. Its colour reminds many of a simple, somewhat large lemon, while the structure of the skin, however, is more like that of a tangerine. A look inside reveals: The yuzu is a very distinct variety. Its seeds are larger than those of the lemon, which is why far less juice can be extracted from the yuzu. The taste of the yuzu is similar to a mixture of lemon, grapefruit and tangerine.
Flesh, juice & peel
In the kitchen, everything but the seeds of the yuzu fruit is used: the flesh, the peel and the juice. The fruit can be pureed, juiced, grated or confit. There are no limits to the creativity of the usage. In principle, yuzu should be dosed carefully, otherwise it can quickly become dominant and overpower other components of the dish. Used discreetly, however, it gives many dishes an exotic kick, which is particularly appreciated in top gastronomy. If you grate the peel over pasta or fish, you give your dish a very special touch. But the fruit is also becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient in cocktails, such as the yuzu sour. As a citrus note in desserts or directly as a jam, you can incorporate yuzu into your desserts to give them the right freshness. But it is not only the taste of yuzu that is impressive; the perfume industry has also made use of the fragrant oils from the peel.
In Japan, there are still many products made from yuzu, such as yuzu vinegar or yuzu syrup. One of our favourite ingredients is yuzu kosho. This is a paste made from yuzu, chilli and salt, which is often served with grilled meat. Also from Japan is the so-called Ponzu sauce, which is refined with citrus fruits, especially often with yuzu. The spicy sauce is an excellent dip for dishes with raw fish or meat, such as tataki or sashimi. In Korea, yuzu, which is called yuja there by the way, is often enjoyed as a tea, the so-called yujacha. To make it, simply stir a mixture of honey, sugar syrup and thin strips of yuzu peel and pour hot water over it.