When exploring Japanese or other East Asian cuisines, you will undoubtedly encounter a yuzu. It looks somewhat like an orange, and it is indeed a citrus fruit. However, you may be wondering how it differs from the other members of the citrus family.
Fresh yuzu will be citrusy, tart, and refreshing. You will not find it as a stringent as a grapefruit. They have a lot of large seeds, making it slightly difficult to eat. The yuzu skin yields a fragrant zest, perfect for cooking.
What Does Yuzu Taste Like
As a member of the citrus family, yuzu does not live down the sweet and sour impression left by it’s cousins. Some say that it tastes like a grapefruit, a lemon, and a mandarin orange combined together.
The acidity is not as sharp as one would find in a grapefruit. It is slightly less sour than a lemon. Sometimes, you will find meat dishes combined with yuzu, allowing it to cut through the richness of the meat.
One way you may find you zoo presented is in the form of a vibrant powder. And vibrant is just the right word for it; the sweet and tangy flavor of yuzu powder makes it perfect in any range of foods. It is enticingly sweet, while being just sour and citrusy enough to bring a kick.
The aroma is powerful, but not overwhelming. It is most commonly found in cakes, ice creams, and other various pastries. You may also find it in savory applications as well.
Because of the large, unwieldy seeds, it is somewhat difficult to eat a yuzu out of hand. However yuzu juice is a refreshing, tarte beverage that is slightly bitter. That bitterness, however, can be refreshing.
Some, however, find the bitterness to be too strong. In this case, it is often mixed with other juices, water, or sweeter ingredients to balance it out.
A popular Japanese condiment, yuzu koshō is packed with acidic flavor and rich heat. It is usually made with green chili peppers, though some utilize red peppers instead. You will know what type of pepper has been used by the color of the yuzu koshō – green for green, and orange when red peppers have been used.
The flavor is mildly spicy, and the citrus brings an acidity that makes it perfect for nabemono dishes, miso soup, and sashimi.
Yuzu koshō is a local specialty in Kyushu, where some of the most famous brands of the condiment are made.
Ponzu sauce is another Japanese condiment that uses yuzu to its advantage. When mixed with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and dashi, ponzu sauce is salty, sweet, tangy, and bitter.
If you want an indication as to what ponzu sauce tastes like, look no further than the name. The term originally came to the Japanese language in the form of ponsu. Ponsu was loaned over from the Dutch word pons, which means punch. That is, the type of punch you would use to describe a fruity drink.
The suffix ‘su’ comes from the acidity and addition of vinegar. Put that together, and you’ve got a sauce with an acidity drawn from fruit and vinegar, but with savory, salty-sweetness to pair along.
Ponzu sauce is ideal for soba noodles, or you may find it with ceviche or tuna tataki.
Yuzu is everything you could want in a citrus fruit. It is sour, bright, and tangy. The acidity is not as harsh as grapefruit, and lemons beat it in terms of sourness. It is perfect in savory or sweet recipes, as the tangy, bitter taste can lend well in either direction.