What is Yuzu and How To Use It

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: December 25, 2023
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What is Yuzu

What is yuzu? Yuzu is Japan’s subtle and flavourful citrus fruit power food with a to-die-for aroma. This yuzu fruit is the new secret ingredient being used by Michelin chefs, and for good reason – it’s delicious. Read on for more about this Japanese super food today!

What Is Yuzu

Yuzu (柚子) is Japanese citrus fruit. It’s juice and zest can be used in so many ways – from savory to sweet and refreshing drinks. This magical citrus yuzu fruit has a strong aromatic fragrance and a divine flavor. It’s a taste bomb of sweet and sour with a powerful fragrance.

Yuzu is very common in Japanese cuisine. You can use its citrus juice and skins for yuzu kosho, ramen, ponzu sauce, sunomono (Japanese vinegary salad), yuzu liqueur, hot pot, yuzu tea and much more. This Japanese citrus fruit has been increasingly used by chefs in the United States over the last few decades. (source)

Both the juice and the zest can be used in various ways like other citrus fruits or lemon. However, yuzu cannot be substituted by any other fruit due to it’s strong fragrance and unique flavour.

I love yuzu because it’s so tasty, versatile with an aroma to die for. Cooking with yuzu fruit is a complete luxury.

When you cook yuzu, the delightfully citrusy fragrance fills your kitchen and brings alive any dish. It’s sure to impress your family and friends. Bring joy to your life and share it with loved ones. Read on for more about yuzu!

How Yuzu Looks Like

Yuzu is about the size of a palm. The skin is thick and lumpy. Some scars and black dots on the surface are not uncommon. This means the yuzu is of a high quality. If the yuzu is yellow, it’s ripe, mature and larger than unripe green yuzu.

Yuzu is similar to other Japanese citrus fruits, kabosu, sudachi or mandarine. Make sure that you find a little indented protrusion on the bottom. That means it’s yuzu!

How To Find Yuzu

Yuzu may not be readily available at your regular grocery store, but it’s worth keeping eye out for it in your local Asian grocery store. So with a little attention at the right time of the year, you may be able to find it.

How to find yellow yuzu

Yellow yuzu is mature, fruity and juicier than green yuzu. The skin is soft and thick. I use yellow yuzu for yuzu kosho, yuzu liqueur, yuzu ponzu, yuzu sour and hot pot.

The best season to find it is winter. Check online or at your local Japanese or Asian store from December to February.

How to find green yuzu

Green yuzu is harvested before it becomes ripe, and is available in summer. So keep your eye out for it from August to September. Green yuzu is smaller than yellow yuzu. The skin is hard, and it has less juice than yellow yuzu.

The good news is that while yuzu fruit may be difficult to find, it’s getting super popular. So keep looking – you may find it, and when you do, get it without hesitation! This is how I found it.

Yuzu Tea

How To Use It

Andy loves yuzu, and so do I! Check out my yuzu recipes for some inspiration. You can enjoy this divine citrus fruit too. My yuzu recipes are authentic and inherited from my mother in Japan.

I’m always trying out new ways to cook with yuzu. So bookmark this page if you like yuzu and want to discover new recipes!

1. Yuzu Kosho

Make your very own yuzu kosho (chili citrus paste) from scratch. You’ll be looking for things to add it to and will soon understand why people love yuzu kosho so much in Japan!

Yuzu kosho is a spicy Japanese condiment made from green or yellow yuzu zest with chili peppers. It’s fermented with sea salt. This is the secret to how yuzu kosho can induce the umami of the ingredients when it’s added.

2. Yuzu ponzu

Japanese yuzu ponzu is made with purely yuzu juice and occasionally with other citrus fruit juice of kabosu and sudachi. This high quality of seasoning sauce is made by combining them with traditional Japanese seasonings of soy sauce, sake and mirin. Then sit them with kombu, Japanese thick seaweed, to induce umami.

You can dip hot and juicy gyoza. Or add it to salad, pasta, udon, rice bowls, cooked vegetables and many more! The possibility is infinite! The recipe will be coming soon.

3. Yuzu Liqueur

When yellow yuzu season arrives in winter, I can’t wait to make drink recipes with yuzu. And one of my favourites is homemade yuzu liqueur. It’s super refreshing, slightly sweet and tangy. This homemade yuzu sake will impress your friends and bring to life any dinner party.

There’s a science behind traditional Japanese homemade liqueur making. You’ll learn how to transfer the aroma and flavour of yuzu juice and its zest beautifully into the drink.

4. Yuzu Ramen

Making ramen at home is very popular in Japan. Ramen is Japan’s national food, and yuzu ramen is one of the super popular ramen recipes in the country.

This yuzu ramen is made with yuzu sauce combined with plant based Japanese dashi (broth). It’s a light and refined transparent salt based soup. This yuzu ramen is a slightly spicy ramen with rich yuzu citrus flavor and aroma. You won’t be disappointed!

5. Red Yuzu Kosho

When golden yellow yuzu is combined with red chili, it becomes red yuzu kosho. It creates a powerful flavour and fragrance, which is totally different to any other citrus fruits. It’s totally unique! Yuzu kosho is fermented and is made with a combination of citrus, chili and salt.

Red yuzu kosho works well with almost any savory dish. This Japanese condiment will change your life in the kitchen!

6. Yuzu Tea

Sweet and tangy, this homemade yuzu tea is delicious. It’s the perfect citron tea for any occasion. Check out my recipe for how to make yuzu tea with no bitterness. I love yuzu tea because it keeps me warm from the inside during the chilly winter. Only two ingredients are required for this homemade herbal tea!

7. Green Yuzu Kosho

I love green yuzu kosho for its freshness and strong aroma. It’s delicious! Pungent citrus flavour of yuzu will bring any types of savory dish to life! Check out this green yuzu kosho recipe, and discover something new flavour today.

8. Hot pot with Yuzu

This hot pot with yuzu recipe is made easily and is plant based. The flavour and umami comes with traditional Japanese ingredients for hot pot. It’s often my favourite for a family dinner in the cold winter.

How Yuzu Can Be Enjoyed

Cooking

Yuzu can be enjoyed in various ways. Both the juice and peel can be used for seasoning, condiments or desserts. My advice is to add juice and peel at the end of the cooking process. This way you can maximize the yuzu’s fragrance and flavour. Add yuzu skin or yuzu juice before you combine the ingredients or serve to:

  • pasta
  • salad
  • sautéing
  • dessert

Or sprinkle finely grated yuzu skin over any main dish to enhance the flavour.

Yuzu bath

I enjoy yuzu even in the bath. The strong aroma and the oil from yuzu skin can make the bathing very special. In Japan, bathing with yuzu is customary on Toji, the winter solstice. It’s believed that this yuzu yu (柚子湯) keeps the skin smooth and warms the body.

Simply float whole yuzu fruits or cut in half on the bath. I also use leftover yuzu skins after making ponzu. For this, add used yuzu skin into a cotton bag and let it release the aroma on the bath. It’s a complete luxury and relaxes my mind and feelings…!

What is Yuzu

Yuzu Tea (Citron Tea)

Barbara Hodge
Sweet and tangy, this homemade yuzu tea is delicious. The yuzu tea recipe has no bitterness, and is simply the perfect citron tea for any occasion. Only two ingredients for homemade herbal tea!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Gluten-Free, Japanese, Vegan

Ingredients
  

  • 5 yuzu fruit (about 500g)
  • 18 oz rock sugar (500g)

Instructions
 

  • Rub each yuzu with salt and wash it with cold water. Drain water and dry naturally. Avoid direct sunlight while drying.
  • Clean an air-tight container or jar with a washing detergent. Use war water and wash it completely. Dry it out naturally.
  • Remove stems. Take off spots on the yuzu skin with a knife. Cut each yuzu into half and remove yuzu seeds, and squeeze yuzu juice and keep it for another use.
  • Slice yuzu skin into 2 mm (1/16 inch) wide slices.
  • Make three layers of yuzu skin and rock sugar in the container as the image on the recipe post. Close the lid tight, and keep the container in a dark, cool place. Avoid direct sunlight.
  • The yuzu tea base is ready in four days. If you keep it for two weeks, the yuzu fragrance and taste will intensify. That's it! Put two teaspoons of the yuzu base into a cup and add hot water. Enjoy!

Notes

How to save
Keep the yuzu tea base with an air-tight container in the fridge. Once it’s opened, use it up within ten days. Or leave it in the freezer. It’s convenient to separate it into small portions and keep with ziploc bags.

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