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Winter Recipes: Yuzu

Yuzu ready to be harvested!

One of the things that often comes up for people whether they are new to Japan or have lived here a long time is what to do with the various items they find at farmers markets. People are often surprised, too, to learn that there are a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available in winter. Most people, wrongly, believe that nothing is growing in Japan during these cold months. Certainly, further north in Tohoku, there is some truth there, but from Saitama on down, the fields are alive with various greens and root crops, and many an orchard is bursting with fruit.

So, to get folks feeling brave, I'm going to list a few recipes for items found on vendor tables everywhere these days.

It seemed logical to start with yuzu, a beloved citrus found almost nowhere else, that is in full swing at the moment. There are a number of varieties, but yuzu is yuzu, and you can have a wonderfully delicious time with it no matter what form you see. Some look almost like mikans and are nearly orange-yellow in color. Others are a little bit bigger than a ping pong ball and are a vivid yellow. Still others are slightly larger than a softball, bright yellow, and highly textured. Those are heavy on pith and peel, but can still make a good marmalade.

Here are some recipes to get you started!

One of easiest ways to make use of this lovely fruit is yuzushu. Based on the umeshu recipe, I simply substituted yuzu. The peel needs to be separated from the fruit and removed a few weeks in to lessen the bitter effect, but otherwise it is the same principle: put ingredients in jar and wait.

For those seeking a non-alcoholic beverage, this yuzu'd version of umehachimitsu might be just the ticket. Sweet, bitter, and tart, it is a little bit strange but still delicious. It is also possible to make candied peel out of this, although I believe I made marmalade with the leftover fruit.

Yuzu Marmalade
This recipe is a straight-up yuzu marmalade with no additions and represents my early years of marmalade making. It is a nice recipe, but it does require a fair bit of time. I recommend trying it at least once to compare, although the recipes below are a bit speedier.

Apple Yuzu Marmalade
Yuzu and apples cross paths for a time at the markets, although apples arrive and stay longer at the party. However, they make a nice pairing. I've also squeezed a cut yuzu over sliced apples to keep them from browning, and the flavor combination is delightful. This marmalade takes advantage of both and makes a nice gift to boot.

Yuzu Ginger Marmalade
Yuzu and ginger also make a great combination and also cross paths at the markets this time of year. I tend to use a fair bit of ginger for a zippy flavor in this marmalade, but you can suit your household tastes as you see fit. The ginger, I think, would also make a nice addition to the shu.

Candied Yuzu Peel
If you decide to make the yuzushu, you may end up wondering what to do with all that peel you remove. Well, so did I. I opted to make candied peel of the yuzu, which was labor intensive and ridiculously delicious.

Dressing up those ramen packs is something we do at our house, and let me just say that it makes an otherwise tasty but slightly disgusting bowl of noodles into something wonderful. If a generous drizzle of yuzu were added to the bowl along with an assortment of fresh vegetables, it would be divine. Otherwise, you can go to Afuri or Zund-Bar, an Afuri affiliate of some kind, and enjoy the one placed before you. Here's an early, early piece about a first trip to Afuri, before they became an international thing.

Tsukemono a.k.a. Pickles
In winter, yuzu peel and/or slices are often slipped into the tsukemono jar for a little zing. The jar in the linked post is gone now, thanks to my office assistant, Frank. However, I recommend picking up one up (and keeping it away from your cat) for easy pickling!

Have a recipe to share or a suggestion? Send it along!! I'd love to add it to the list.


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