Easy Yuzu Kosho Recipe

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By Barbara Hodge • Last Updated: December 25, 2023
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Easy Yuzu Kosho Recipe

Yuzu Kosho is a spicy, salty taste sensation that will bring your cooking alive! Discover Japan’s most amazing citrus condiment. You can make this Japanese citrus chili paste from scratch today!

Yuzu Kosho

There is no substitute for yuzu kosho! Fresh citrus flavour with refined salty, spiciness – yuzu kosho will change your life!

This famous Japanese hot sauce paste is spicy, but it’s not melt your mouth fiery chilli. It has a citrusy chilli spice and is full of flavour. It’s no wonder it has become the super popular go to Japanese paste that it is!

The citrus chilli aroma of yuzu kosho will draw you in every time. The hot, lemony, salty taste is to die for, and frankly, addictive! 

Bon appetit talks about this citrus hot chili paste as ‘a secret weapon condiment chefs are putting on everything’. (source)

So, it’s time to bring Michelin chefs’ secret into your kitchen as well! The best thing is that you can make fresh yuzu kosho easily at home.

Brig a joy in your life and share it with your loved ones! I’m dusting off my yuzu kosho recipe to share with you! Learn how to make yuzu kosho from scratch today! Read on!

What is yuzu kosho?

Yuzu kosho is an umami rich flavourful citrus chili paste. It’s originally from Kyushu, the southern part of Japan. Yuzu is Japanese citrus fruit with amazing aroma. Kosho means black or white pepper in Japanese, but is used to express ‘chili’ in the Kyushu region. (source)

This Japanese spicy paste is made with only three ingredients: yuzu zest, Japanese chili (togarashi) and sea salt. Once you combine them, these ingredients ferment and intensify the citrus fragrance and umami of the fruit.

What does yuzu kosho taste like?

Think spicy, citrus soaked, salty goodness with a pungent and enticing aroma! It’s not too hot, and certainly won’t numb your tongue, but it has some spice. And it’s just packed with umami rich flavour!

The unique yuzu citrus is the perfect companion to the chili, especially after it’s had time to soak in it with salt! Yum!

Green yuzu kosho and red yuzu kosho

What type of yuzu and chili you use determines the taste and colour. When yuzu is harvested before it becomes ripe, it’s green yuzu. When it becomes mature, it changes to a lemony yellow colour.

This citrus spicy paste is made with finely grated yuzu zest. Young, green yuzu is often combined with green chili peppers, making it green yuzu kosho. Fully ripe yellow yuzu is combined with red chili, making it a red yuzu kosho.

Green yuzu kosho can have a fresher, sharper chili taste, while the red yuzu kosho paste is more fragrant and has a slightly richer yuzu flavour. Both are great! Tell me which one you prefer in the comments below.

How to use yuzu kosho

This all purpose Japanese citrus chili paste works well with almost any savory dish from yuzu ramen to a winter warmer hot pot with yuzu. Just ask Andy, he adds it to just about everything! It really is one of the most versatile condiment, paste, and flavour-bases around. Experiment with using this tangy and mildly spicy chili paste and let me know how you use it!

Pro Tip!

The top tip is not to cook it. Cooking it can turn the yuzu zest bitter, and the aroma disappears.

Find some inspiration for recipes with yuzu in the ‘Best Tips for Yuzu Kosho’ section below.

Why this Yuzu Kosho is so Special
Credit: Instagram @guillaumebracavalchef

Why this Yuzu Kosho is so Special?

I love this recipe because:

  • It’s an authentic yuzu kosho recipe, inherited from my family.
  • It’s homemade yuzu kosho with fresh yuzu fruit – Japan’s secret citrus sensation!

You can buy yuzu kosho at the local Japanese grocery store, but it’s just not as fresh and tasty as making your own. And you’ve got it on hand whenever you want it! And to be honest, it really does bring joy to make it at home.

Yuzu Kosho Ingredients

Making this spicy citrus paste is a cinch. Your only real job for this Japanese hot sauce recipe is to find the ingredients:

1. JAPANESE YUZU

Look for ripe golden yellow yuzu that has a fresh citrus smell. It should be firm with hard skin. I prefer the larger yuzu as it takes a bit longer to peel the skin of smaller ones. Find out further details about this magical fruit at what is yuzu.

Where to find yuzu

I know that yuzu is not an everyday ingredient outside Japan. But if you live in the US or Australia, you are able to find it from local yuzu farms or online. Occasionally, Japanese or Asian grocery stores will have it in stock too. But you have to move quickly when they’re in season as they sell out fast.

Also, just a thought – if you have a bit of space at home, it’s worth knowing that you can buy yuzu plants in Australia, UK and the US. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with having your very own yuzu tree!!

But really, just keep your eyes open, as yuzu is getting super popular and lots of places outside of Japan have started selling this aroma rich citrus fruit.

When is the season?

Green yuzu is on sale in summer, from June to August, while yellow one is in winter, from November to January.

Yuzu, kabosu or sudachi?

Don’t mistake yuzu with kabosu or sudachi. They are other Japanese citrus fruits similar to yuzu in appearance. But the fragrance and tanginess are totally different.

Look at the skin. Yuzu has a rough skin on its surface. It also has a lot of seeds inside and less juice. If the surface is smooth, that may not be yuzu.

2. JAPANESE GREEN CHILI PEPPER

It’s called ao togarashi in Japan, and is commonly translated as green chili pepper in English. The season of this green chili pepper is slightly later than green yuzu. It’s from June to September. If you use the chili pepper made during the season, it helps to make yuzu kosho paste smooth in texture, and fresh.

Important!

Japanese green chili pepper is much milder than red chili. If you use other types of red chili, experiment with the spiciness so that it’s the right heat for you. Thai or Korean chili can be very hot if you use the same amount for this recipe.

3. SEA SALT

I use sea salt as it’s used traditionally in Japan. You could use other types of salt but make sure it’s good quality – it makes all the difference!

The important thing to remember, is to use 20% of the weight of the other ingredients in salt. So for 500 grams of chili and yuzu, add 100 grams of salt. This helps the fermentation process and makes the ingredients last longer.

How to Make Yuzu Kosho

The way to make yuzu kosho is simple and straightforward. There are just a few important steps in the process you need to pay attention to.

Clean the ingredients

Clean yuzu fruits and green pepper with water. Dry with a kitchen cloth. And leave inside to dry out completely (avoiding direct sunlight). Removing water is important. It helps to avoid mould developing on the ingredients as it ferments.

Also, clean your hands, the utensils, and airtight glass jar with hot water. Again, this helps avoid mould.

Remove white pith

Separate yuzu fruit from the skin. Try to avoid the white pith under the surface of the skin between the peel and the fruit. It makes the yuzu kosho bitter.

Enjoy the rich aroma while you grate yuzu zest! Set aside the fruit for juice or another use. I usually make yuzu ponzu sauce with the juice.

Cutting chili

Remove the seeds and stems out.

Green chili pepper is a strong stimulant and can irritate the eyes and skin for some people. If you cut them with a knife, try using kitchen gloves and don’t touch your eyes or mouth when preparing.

Grind the ingredients

Place yuzu skin, green chili and sea salt into a food processor. Smooth over the ingredients. Keep processing until the ingredients become well combined and smooth.

Add a spoonful yuzu juice if you plan to finish the yuzu kosho within a week. If you intend to store it more than a month, don’t add the juice. It’s better to store long term without using the juice as it helps avoid mould occurring.

But if you don’t have a food processor..

No problem. Use a grater. In this case, you do not need to remove the fruit or pith. After cleaning and drying out the yuzu, grate the skin surface. Do not include pith as much as you can.

Mix up grated yuzu skin, finely chopped green chili and sea salt in a mortar. Grind them with a pestle.

You can use yuzu kosho immediately for your dishes. If you keep it in the fridge for at least one week, the spiciness becomes milder, and the flavour is more harmonized.

That’s it! Serve and enjoy!

The Tips for Best Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu kosho recipes

This Japanese green hot spicy paste is truly divine and magical! It’s so versatile.

Here are some ideas for recipes using yuzu kosho:

  • Yuzu pasta – Make your own Japanese style pepperoncino (Italian chili pasta).
  • Yuzu kosho is the perfect companion to Japanese noodles like udon, soba and somen. Just throw in the yuzu kosho paste once you turn off the heat.
  • Salad dressing – combine with olive oil and vinegar. No need to add salt as it already salty.
  • Dipping sauce – simply place the yuzu paste next to your dishes on the plate.
  • Tofu hot pot with yuzu – yuzu works very well with tofu! Just wait until you turn off the heat and stir it in!
  • Yuzu ramen – I made a plant based yuzu ramen recipe with yuzu kosho!
  • Yuzu condiment – yuzu shio, yuzu shichimi, yuzu miso and much more!

How to store yuzu kosho

Freshly made yuzu kosho can last for at least three months in the fridge. Use an airtight glass jar for storing. It needs to be washed well with hot water and air dried completely.

Or you can separate the yuzu kosho into small ziploc bags and keep them in the freezer for six months.

  • If you keep yuzu kosho longer than a month, wipe out inside the jar and the tin with kitchen paper that is soaked with strong alcohol like vodka.
  • Plastic or metal jars are not recommended. The ingredients would absorb undesired flavours.

What to do with left over yuzu fruit

You can use it for juice or dressing. If you still have juice left over, pour it into an ice cube maker, and put it into the freezer. Once the juice cubes are frozen, transfer them to a ziploc bag, and keep them in the freezer.

My favourite recipe with yuzu juice is yuzu ponzu sauce. Ponzu is one of Japan’s most often used ingredients for just about anything. The yuzu juice is combined with soy sauce and kombu. 

Easy Yuzu Kosho Recipe

Yuzu Kosho Recipe

Barbara Hodge
Discover Japan's most amazing citrus condiment! Yuzu kosho is a spicy, salty taste sensation that will bring your cooking alive. Make this Japanese citrus chili paste from scratch today!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 1 cup

Ingredients
  

  • 100 g yellow yuzu zest yielded
  • 100 g Japanese green chili pepper (or any types of chili pepper*)
  • 40 g sea salt

Instructions
 

Clean

  • Clean yuzu fruits and green pepper with water and dry them with a kitchen cloth. Dry them inside the house completely (avoid direct sunlight). Removing the water is important. It helps preservation and avoids mould.
  • Make sure your hands are washed. Clean all the utensils you use and the airtight glass jar to store. Use hot water.

Grate & Chop

  • Grate the yuzu skin with a grater. Try not to include the pith, the white part under the skin between the peel and the fruit. It makes the yuzu kosho bitter. Set aside the fruit for juice or for another use.**
  • Remove the seeds and stems of green chili pepper. Chop the green chili finely if you do not have a food processor. ***

Grind

  • Smooth over chopped green chili pepper with suribachi and surikogi, a Japanese mortar and wooden pestle, and grind. Then combine yuzu zest and salt. Keep grinding.
  • Add a spoonful of yuzu juice if you plan to finish the yuzu kosho within a week. If you intend to store yuzu kosho for more than a month, do not add the juice. This helps to prevent ingredients from moulding.
  • That's it! Serve and enjoy!
    You can use yuzu kosho immediately for your dishes. If you keep it in the fridge at least for a week, the spiciness becomes milder with a richer taste.

Notes

*Japanese green chili is highly recommended, but if you use other types of chili, experiment with the spiciness. Japanese chili is much milder than red chili, Thai or Korean chili pepper. 
*** Green chili pepper is a strong stimulant and can irritate the eyes and skin for some people. If you cut them with a knife instead of the food processor, try using kitchen gloves and don’t touch your eyes or mouth when preparing.

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