In Japan, yuzu is very popular since it is one of the most versatile fruits in the kitchen.
So what exactly is it? It is a variety of citrus that is sour and highly fragrant. Although most people associate Yuzu with Japan, it is also majorly grown and used in China and Korea.
The flesh of Yuzu is edible. However, its rind has more uses in cooking as it is added to vegetables, fish, noodles, and many other dishes. Yuzu powder is also a great addition to several dishes including desserts.
Lately, several Western restaurants have included yuzu in their menus. You might have come across it and wondered what it is and what it tastes like.
Worry not, this article will answer most, if not all the questions you have about yuzu.
We will discuss the taste, suitable flavor pairings, uses, substitutes, and so much more. Let us dive right in.
For you to have a better understanding of what yuzu tastes like, we’ll discuss the taste of fresh yuzu, fresh yuzu juice, and yuzu powder separately.
I would describe the taste of yuzu as citrusy with a tart flavor. It is more like a combination of grapefruit, mandarin, and lemon. Fresh yuzu is not as sour as lemon or as astringent as grapefruit, so you can enjoy eating it out of hand.
However, I personally don’t like eating fresh yuzu out of hand because it has so many seeds and it is not as juicy as I would want it to be.
Fresh yuzu juice
Fresh yuzu juice is bitter, sour, and is normally yellowish-green in color. If you like sour flavors you’ll enjoy drinking the juice on its own. However, most people find it unpleasant on its own so it is added to other juices to make it sweeter.
Yuzu powder has a tangy and sweet flavor. It has an amazing scent and is added to a wide range of dishes. It is mostly used in desserts and sweet treats but it can also be used in savory dishes.
Suitable yuzu flavor pairings
Since yuzu is acidic, it pairs well with most traditional Japanese ingredients. Some of the ingredients it complements are soy, ginger, and macha.
The acidity of yuzu comes in very handy in savory dishes that are well-salted but you still find lacking.
Yuzu also complements heavy meat dishes as it enhances the richness of the meat.
Like I mentioned earlier in the article, yuzu is very versatile thanks to its vibrant citrus flavor and amazing fragrance. Yuzu is actually one of the major ingredients in popular Japanese dishes.
Yuzu can be eaten out of hand. All you need to do is slice it in half deseed it, and then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, the same way you eat a grapefruit.
Yuzu is used in sweet dishes, savory dishes, beverages, and also sauces. Let us look at the details of these uses separately.
The mild sourness of yuzu makes it an excellent addition to sweet treats. You can add yuzu to your cakes, biscuits, and even ice cream.
Manufacturers also add yuzu to confectionery like gummy candy.
Yuzu is the perfect garnish for meat and sashimi. All you have to do is finely slice the rind and use it as a garnish.
You can also add yuzu to cooked vegetables, hot pots, and soups. It acts as a souring agent which balances the flavors of the dish.
Yuzu can be used to make juice. If you enjoy sour flavors, you will definitely enjoy drinking them on their own. If not, add it to your cocktails or slushies. They will taste amazing.
Another interesting use is making yuzu tea. Yujacha Korean Citron Yuzu Tea is a product that you add to water to make a hot beverage. It has a sweet flavor and a lemon fragrance.
Yuzu koshu is a flavor-packed condiment that you can make by combining yuzu with salt and chili. You can add it to Asian soups, short ribs, sashimi, and sushi.
You can also use yuzu to make ponzu sauce. Ponzu sauce is a Japanese condiment popularly used as a marinade and as a dipping sauce.
In case you do not have yuzu on hand, you can always use a substitute in its place. The simplest and best substitute for yuzu is a combination of grapefruit juice, lemon juice, and a splash of lime.
Alternatively, you can use Meyer lemons. They are not too common, but they make for an ideal substitute on their own.
It is important to note that these substitutes will not have a flavor that is exactly similar to that of yuzu, but they work well in most recipes. You may not even be able to tell the difference in taste when you use the substitutes because it is very subtle.
Interesting facts about yuzu
- Yuzu is the most popular citrus fruit in Japan.
- Yuzu trees are very thorny. Therefore, extra care is taken during harvesting.
- The origin of yuzu can be traced back to China, but it is now widely grown in Japan, Tibet, and Korea.
- Yuzu has other uses apart from its known culinary uses. It is used as an ingredient in shampoos, lotions, perfumes, and even alcohol. It can also be added to hot baths.
Yuzu may not be very common in the United States, but you are likely to come across it in high-end restaurants or Asian grocery stores if you’re lucky.
Yuzu is one of the best citrus fruits out there. Not only does it add a vibrant burst of citrus to dishes, it also adds an amazing fragrance. Its intense acidity also makes it an ideal ingredient for both sweet and savory dishes.
If you are considering trying yuzu for the first time, this is your cue to go ahead and try it. You have nothing to lose. Combined with other ingredients, yuzu enhances the flavor of every dish it is added to.
Try yuzu today and let me know how you find it.