How to cook with yuzu

Frozen maple with shiso and green apple

How to cook with yuzu

by Great British Chefs13 May 2015

How to cook with yuzu

The yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit — often likened to a lemon crossed with a mandarin orange. The flavour is quite distinctive. It is sharp and acidic, with heady blossom notes.

The citric acidity means that — as with limes or lemons — yuzu juice can be used in both sweet and savoury contexts. In Japanese cuisine, it is often added to a ponzu sauce, or mixed with honey to sweeten teas. It is also added to cocktails, used to make liquor like yuzukomachi, and was even used to flavour Asian-inspired Dutch beer, Iki. As the yuzu juice creeps into more Western kitchens though, its uses are becoming ever-more diverse, from salad dressings to salmon glazes, jellies and sweet curds.

What to look for when buying yuzu

It is almost impossible to find a fresh yuzu in Britain, but bottled yuzu juice is becoming increasingly available, with more and more supermarket chains stocking the once-esoteric ingredient. Be aware that there is a big difference between 100% pure yuzu juice, and 'yuzu citrus seasoning', which contains a far lower percentage of the juice.

Once opened, the bottled juices generally need to be consumed within four weeks. And seeing as one drop goes a long way, it's good news that more chefs are using this ingredient to develop new recipes.

How to cook with yuzu

Yuzu juice has a very strong flavour. It's even more intense than lemon or lime juice, so when used in drinks, a little goes a very long way. Add a drop to cocktails — using it more like a bitter than a conventional fruit juice. It's common to use yuzu in seafood seasoning, again used in similar situations to lemon or lime, but in smaller quantities. Just a single drop of yuzu juice might, for example, be used to dress an opened oyster, it could be incorporated it into a ceviche marinade, or added to a mayonnaise or brunoise. Also experiment mixing yuzu into savoury dressings and marinades along with soy, oil and garlic.

Yuzu also has infinite applications in sweet recipes, where it is best used like an essence, or orange blossom water. Use a few drops to flavour custards, jellies, ices and meringues. Nuno Mendes uses a dash of yuzu in a panna cotta recipe, and also for flavouring tangy, jellied petit fours.

Yuzu powder is also available from some specialist retailers, which blogger Victoria Glass uses as an ingenious alternative to lemon juice in her super-summery yuzu posset recipe.

What yuzu goes with

Think of yuzu in a Japanese context alongside other traditional flavours like ginger, matcha, shochu and soy. The citric acidity means that yuzu works in similar scenarios to orange, lime and lemon — flavouring everything from marmalades to sorbets and light crab or fish dishes. The flower blossom notes provide an extra complexity, meaning that yuzu juice makes an interesting substitution for orange blossom water — working well alongside cinnamon, cloves, pistachio and rose.

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