Kelly Izdihar Crosby
If you crave something sour and tangy, yuzu is right up your alley. Yuzu is a citrus fruit from East Asia. It is widely grown in Australia, China, France, Italy, and Spain. Prized in Japanese culture for thousands of years, yuzu is a staple of Japanese cuisine. Yuzu looks like a small grapefruit with uneven, knobby yellow or green skin, depending on its ripeness. There is not much flesh to this fruit as most of it is comprised of a rind and large seeds. The flavor is very tart and is a blend of grapefruit, mandarin, and lemon.
Due to its strong tart flavor, yuzu is rarely eaten as a fruit. It is mostly prized for its juice and outer rind (or fragrant zest). Your first taste of yuzu will usually be in processed form. It is used to accent cooked vegetables, fish, and hot pot dishes. It’s also added to soy sauce, vinegar, and Japanese tea.
Because it’s a citrus fruit, you can use yuzu the same way you would lemon. This special fruit is beginning to reach worldwide attention due to famous chefs using it in their cuisines. In the article “Yuzu: The Citrus Fruit Gaining Attention Around the World,” Masaya Yamawaka writes, “Yuzu’s profile was raised considerably overseas in the early 2000’s when Ferran Adrià, renowned head chef of Michelin three-star restaurant El Bulli in northern Spain (‘the hardest restaurant in the world to get a table at’), began championing the fruit.”
Online retailers and local Asian grocery stores offer a fun variety of yuzu products. You can enjoy candied yuzu rinds as a snack or add them to your favorite ice cream or yogurt. You can combine yuzu juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar to make a tasty salad dressing. Yuzu ponzu, or soy sauce with yuzu flavoring, has a savory, smoky taste that goes great with stir-fried vegetables, fish, and chicken.
Yuzu cannot be imported into the United States due to the danger of importing citrus disease. California residents are fortunate, as yuzu is locally grown there. Because fresh yuzu is such a rare commodity, it costs around $8 to $20 a pound. Compare this to lemons, which are $2 per pound, or oranges at $1.55 per pound.
While yuzu fruit is hard to come by, yuzu juice is easily available. Due to its tart taste, a little bit of juice goes a long way. You can add the juice to custards, jellies, and meringues.
Fresh yuzu can be stored at room temperature. It can be refrigerated if it’s not used right away, but it starts to lose its pleasant aroma after a few days. Frozen yuzu rind or flesh will last for a month, while frozen juice will last for six months. No matter what yuzu product you purchase, always check the expiration date.
For newbies, you can purchase IFANCA halal-certified MONIN Yuzu Fruit Puree from an online retailer. Add this to a smoothie or tea to make the flavor even more delicious.
Kelly Izdihar Crosby is an artist and freelance writer based in Atlanta, GA.