You may have seen in Maido’s produce section a selection of round yellow fruits, resembling lemons, but with a slightly different shape. These fruits are called yuzu. Yuzu is a small, yellow citrus fruit, typically about the same size as the mandarin orange it is descended from. Yuzu is mainly cultivated in Japan, China, and Korea and possesses a unique sour and zesty flavor. The rind and the leaves are quite aromatic and as such, yuzu flesh is rarely, if ever, eaten alone. Instead, the juice is added to all sorts of seasonings and vinegars, and the rind is dried, ground and used in seasoning powders. Additionally, yuzu is also often added to bath powders, as the scent is refreshing and invigorating.
Yuzu is an integral component in several popular Japanese seasonings, including ponzu, spicy yuzu kosho, and yuzu shichimi. Ponzu is a type of soy sauce based vinegar, commonly used as a dipping sauce for fish and noodles, and often as a dressing for salads. It combines a salty umami flavor with the zesty sourness of yuzu juice and has a light, thin texture which makes it suitable for marinades and even soup bases. Yuzu kosho is a type of spicy paste made from yuzu zest and green thai chilies. It is both peppery and sour, and goes well with nabe broths, and, when mixed with Japanese mayonnaise, makes a piquant and tasty vegetable dip that will give ranch a run for its money. Finally, yuzu shichimi takes the already complex seven-spice powder and adds a citrus twist. Just a pinch of yuzu shichimi in udon or nabe soup will bring a whole new layer of liveliness to a comforting favorite dish.
Using yuzu in cooking is very similar to using lemon. Their flavor is similarly sour, though yuzu possesses, through its relationship to the mandarin orange, a different, sweeter aroma. Squeeze fresh yuzu juice over fish while grilling or combine it with soy sauce for a delightful seafood dip. Mix it with Japanese mayonnaise for an exciting twist, or simmer thin slices of yuzu with honey to make a delightful tea. If you’re looking for a dessert, add a little bit of yuzu juice to a simple syrup and drizzle over shaved ice for a refreshing treat. Just keep in mind that yuzu’s flavor is fairly strong and only a small amount is needed to infuse a dish with its signature taste.
Yuzu are in season during the autumn and winter months, and can be purchased ripe at Maido from about September through February. Green, unripe yuzu are typically available during the summer, and can be ripened at home by storing them in a paper bag for a few days. Frozen yuzu zest and bottled yuzu juice are available year-round in the frozen foods section, and the seasonings section respectively. With several options to choose from, your yuzu needs are sure to be met here at Maido.