I am on a citrus kick these days with it being in season. I talked a little bit about lovely Southeast Asian kaffir limes last week. This week it’s all about a Japanese citrus, yuzu. Yuzu is one of those crossover fruits that has popped up on menus and cocktail lists all over (the juice is such a great add to drinks…). It’s flavor is so distinctive – some notes of lime, grapefruit and mandarin, a Meyer lemon-like sweetness, acidity, and, at the same time, it has a signature, aromatic, floral muskiness that I personally find irresistible.
The rind of the yuzu is actually equally prized as the juice in Japanese cookery, and that brings me to this delicious condiment. Yuzu kosho is a coarse paste made from ground yuzu rind, chilies, and salt. It’s a specialty of a region in Southern Japan called Kyushu, and I’ve recently seen it pop up on non-Japanese restaurant menus around the city. It made me think a bit deeper about how to use this stuff in non-traditional ways.
There are two types: red and green. The red version is milder and sweeter, a combination of ripe yuzu and red chilies. The green version has more of a bite as it’s made from the unripe fruit and green chilies. Both are spicy, salty, sour and piquant. It’s the perfect ingredient for vinaigrette and sauces. It’s lovely in fish, chicken, and beef marinades – I like to add a sweet element like sugar or soy for the beef. Perfect for grilling. I also love that it gives such body to a brothy soup, and, lately, I’ve been dreaming about its kick in a creamy, sweet potato mash…