What is this citrus, prized by Chefs and a regular ingredient in the menus of La Belle Assiette? The yuzu has invaded the Western cuisine for over a decade now, imported and introduced by renowned Chefs like Gregory Brainin. Today, let us draft a small portrait of this citrus “luxury” possessing a unique taste that revisits our specialities on a daily basis.
Yuzu (pronounced “youzou”) is a citrus native of East Asia. Similar in size to an orange, the yuzu stands out with its irregular bumpy form, which makes it easily recognizable. Its colour varies between green and yellow after its maturity, and just like the lemon, it contains little flesh but many pips. It grows on a thorny shrub sharing the name of “Yuzu”, which is particularly resistant to the cold.
While the citrus was originally native of China and Tibet, the consumption and production of Yuzu is now centralized in Japan and, to a lesser extent, Korea. To both countries, the yuzu is an important asset of the local culinary cultures. In Japan, the popularity of yuzu even exceeds gastronomy, and has its place in the country’s traditions, where locals will often take yuzu baths (commonly known as the yuzuzu or yuzuboro) during the winter solstice.
Its unique taste is often described as being halfway between the lime and tangerine, although the grapefruit is also sometimes cited. Due to its acidity close to the lemon’s and the fact that it contains plenty of pips, this is not a citrus fruit that is to be consumed raw, in the manner of an orange. Its price is also unacceptable for this type of use: 50 to 70€ a kilo in France (40 to 60£).
Our Chefs have therefore adopted this citrus, using it to bring new flavours to savoury dishes as well as desserts. The yuzu is primarily used in two forms:
- Its peel, intensely fragrant is often used as a condiment.
- Its juice, being rather soft, is suitable for any type of preparation.
The juice is often preferred since it is more accessible and maintainable than the fresh fruit. It is also difficult to find. To our knowledge, only one address in France offers the yuzu throughout the year for a reasonable price: the Japanese grocery “Kioko” in the 2nd arrondissement of Paris. In the UK, you should probably try “Atari-Ya” shops in London.
Finally, to conclude, and to introduce you to this little citrus, our chef Philippe Roth offers a tasty yuzu recipe that you can prepare yourself: Sea Bream Tartare with yuzu and kumquat.
For 4 people:
– 300g of raw sea bream fillet
– 1 small onion, or spring onion
– 1 tablespoon and a half of yuzu powder, or 2 tablespoons of yuzu juice
– A drizzle of olive oil
– 4 kumquats
– Salt and pepper
Chop the sea bream fillets into very small dices.
Finely chop the spring onions and 2 kumquats.
In a bowl, mix the diced bream, spring onions and kumquats. Add the yuzu and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the salt and pepper to your liking.
Let it cool for 1 hour before serving.
Shape your tartare with the help of a cookie cutter and place some Kumquat slices over.
Sprinkle with cornflower petals and serve with an arugula salad.
You can also serve this tartare in appetizers spoons.
You are now a yuzu expert! Feel free to share your experiences with this little citrus, or even your own recipes.