Updated: November 06, 2018
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Yuzu (ゆず) - How The Healthy Citrus Is Used In Japan

This article will introduce the Japanese yuzu lemon and the many ways that it is used in Japan.

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What Is The Yuzu Lemon

The yuzu is a citrus variety derived from the hybridization of Citrus ichangensis and Citrus reticulata. Originally from Japan where it is an integral part of the country's cuisine, yuzu has been gaining popularity worldwide. There are many reasons behind the worldwide yuzu craze. First and foremost is its unique taste that could be described as something between a lemon and a grapefruit. It goes well with basically any dish that needs a little sharper citrusy taste. It also adds a certain herbal taste as well.
Because it has huge seeds and a thick rind, not much juice can be extracted from the yuzu (about one tablespoon per fruit). However, except for the seeds, every part of the yuzu can - and should! - be consumed. It is an extremely healthy fruit because it contains as much as three times more vitamin C than lemons. The zest is excellent as well. You can grate it and use it fresh or dry and use it as a condiment whenever you want to enhance the taste of a dull dish. The Japanese use yuzu in a wide variety of ways, and yuzu is used as the main ingredient for some of the most distinctive Japanese condiments. In the next sections, we will introduce the many ways yuzu is enjoyed in Japan.

Yuzu Herbal Tea And Marmalade

In Japan, a common way to consume yuzu is by making a jam akin to marmalade with it and using it to sweeten an herbal tea. This hot drink is extremely comforting and is also known as a home remedy for colds. The high vitamin C content of the yuzu is excellent for the immune system which might explain why people use it as a cold remedy.

Yuzu Kosho (ゆず胡椒)

Yuzu kosho is a very common condiment in Japan. It is a mix of yuzu lemon juice and zest, green chili pepper and salt that is fermented. The herbal acidity, spicy and salty flavors go really well together and can really enhance the taste of meat or fish dishes.

Ponzu (ポン酢)

Almost every Japanese refrigerator has this yuzu-based sauce in it that is called ponzu. It is made from mirin (sweet sake), rice vinegar, fish flakes and kombu seaweed broth. The two later really add some deep umami taste to the sauce and the rice vinegar, and yuzu juice are responsible for the sharp acidy, yet pleasant taste. The mirin adds a little sweetness. This makes for a quintessential Japanese ingredient that goes well with a wide variety of Japanese dishes and even foreign ones. For instance, use ponzu as a dipping sauce for Chinese dumplings, sukiyaki and shabushabu meat pieces and vegetables, or use it as a vinaigrette for tofu or salads. It is used as is, without being heated.

Yuzu Tarts

Yuzu can be used as a substitute for limes or lemons, so unsurprisingly it's a great ingredient for all kinds of desserts. Try a to use it as a base ingredient for a tart for instance. This recipe is becoming quite popular.

Bonus usage: bathing with yuzu!

A traditional Japanese way to enjoy yuzu is by adding them to a warm bath. This is done as a custom on the day of the winter solstice in Japan. The scent is just so relaxing and the oils released by the fruit are said to be good for healing chapped winter skin. Yuzus are quite expensive so we would only recommend you do this if you have a tree on your property.
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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