This page may contain affiliate links. I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link. This post is about Yuzu, one of the foods in my 1,000 Foods to Eat Project!
We recently returned from a ONCE IN A LIFETIME TRIP TO JAPAN! The word "incredible" doesn't even begin to describe it. I was supposed to run the Tokyo Marathon on March 1, 2020. However it was cancelled for all except the elite and wheelchair athletes. I am neither one of those, so I was unable to run. The cancellation was due to the coronavirus situation.
1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die
I had booked flights and had planned an extensive 3 week trip across Japan, and my husband and I decided to move forward with our trip. I used this as an opportunity to try to knock off as many of the Japanese foods listed in the book 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die by Mimi Sheraton.
Basically I am trying my best to work my way through this book, and what better way to enjoy the Japanese foods than in Japan!
I learned Japan is COMPLETELY FOOD OBSESSED! I was in my element and had the time of my life trying some of the Japanese foods in the book.
What is Yuzu?
Yuzu is one of the foods listed in the 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die book. Yuzu is a citrus fruit that is mainly cultivated in Korea, China, and Japan. Nowadays it is also cultivated in California.
This citrus is very sour! Therefore it's the juice and the rind that are used in cooking and the fruit is not normally eaten like you would an orange or tangerine. It's also highly aromatic with floral overtones. Yuzu is such an amazing fruit!
I thought it would be super simple to find fresh yuzu. Unfortunately I was sadly mistaken! We traveled quite extensively across Japan, and we visited grocery stores or markets every single day. I could NOT find it! I was advised that it was out of season at the time we were in Japan, late February through the middle of March 2020.
Yuzu Flavored Foods
Although I struggled to find fresh yuzu, I was easily able to find yuzu flavored foods, such as Cheese Marinated Yuzu.
In the picture above, you can easily see the rind of the yuzu. It is the rind of this highly sour citrus that is used grated or cut and slivered very often to enhance dishes.
The rind is also widely used to enhance soups. You can see yuzu rind on top of this hot soba noodle soup that I had in Kanazawa, Japan in the picture below. It definitely makes your face pucker up! 🙂
You can also buy yuzu juice, and my understanding is that you can use it to make a fantastic homemade ponzu sauce! Ponzu sauce is a citrus dipping sauce with mirin and soy sauce as its base. Here's a great recipe from Serious Eats for Ponzu Sauce.
Although we didn't try it, KitKat in Japan has a Yuzu Sake flavor (the one on the right). If you are interested to try this, click here to purchase on Amazon. 🙂
I Finally Found Yuzu!!!
Despite finding yuzu flavored foods, and being served it in a restaurant, I really wanted to find fresh yuzu. I was about ready to give up on finding fresh yuzu when we had the amazing good fortune to meet a lovely shopkeeper in a market in Kanazawa.
Unfortunately I never got her name but look how lovely she is! We bought some Kanazawa sake from her store, as well as some Yuzu Chu-Hi (seen below).
We left her shop and headed to a small grocery store in the market. I was perusing the produce section when I spotted some citrus. Could this be yuzu??
Then I see our friend come into the store to shop, and I asked her if the citrus was yuzu. She confirmed it was!! Oh happy day!!! I'd searched far and wide and finally found it!!
Yuzu For Bathing?
When I asked her what she would do with yuzu, she mentioned she would add it to a hot bath! I never expected to hear that!
I have a friend from Japan on Instagram, Naoko @kitchennao. She commented: "I love Yuzu! the taste, and nice aroma. We put citrons into the bath on the Winter Solstice. (冬至Touji) The reason for putting Yuzu in the bath is said to ward off bad luck and bring good luck. The yuzu tree is strong against diseases and it has a long life. So we take a bath with yuzu to wish for good health and a long life." Don't you just love this?! 🙂
There is an article from Nippon.com, which discusses the joys of bathing with Yuzu. Please check out "Soaking and Seasoning: The Aromatic Pleasures of Yuzu" where you can also see some great pictures of a bather bathing with yuzu!
One of my other Japanese friends on Instagram, @i_like_world_cuisine, advised me that the yuzu that I bought was from the Tokushima prefecture, which has the second largest yuzu production in Japan. I was so delighted to learn this information!
Plans For The Yuzu I Bought
We had found the fresh yuzu very close to the end of our journey in Japan. I purchased one yuzu fruit, and took it back to the AirBnb with me pondering now that I had one, what was I going to do with it?
Because we did not have much time left in Japan, I decided that I would try yuzu in a hot bath on our last evening there. Alas, that didn't work out! We ended up going to an ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC izakaya, and stayed out eating and drinking far far too late!
I'm totally embarrassed to say that I had to let the long sought after yuzu go. It really hurt but I couldn't bring it back home with me. 🙁
When I returned home, I remembered that I had a bottle of Hot Yuzu Sauce which I had picked up at my local grocery. I LOVE SPICE so something called HOT Yuzu totally appealed!
This particular sauce comes from Miyazaki, Japan. And I can vouch that it is a lively hot sauce!
Tilapia With Hot Yuzu Sauce
I decided to serve it over some tilapia, simply seaasoned with salt, pepper, and some Nanami Togarashi.
This sauce would also be great on chicken...that will be my next use of the Hot Yuzu Sauce!
Nanami Togarashi is a Japanese 7-spice blend which includes red chile pepper, roasted orange peel, yellow and black sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, seaweed, and ginger. Use this to spice up ANYTHING, but it is particularly great on Yurinchi Chicken, rice, seafood, and ramen...YUM! You can get it here on Amazon.
Below you will see the cooked tilapia with the Hot Yuzu Sauce. It really was utterly delicious! I served it with some rice, topped with scallions, and used my Japanese chopsticks to enjoy this dish. 🙂
Get the recipe for Tilapia With Hot Yuzu Sauce here.
So Many Ways To Try Yuzu!
I love Yuzu! It's got a great tartness to it, and so citrusy with hints of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. It also has a sharp aroma, and that definitely comes through in the Hot Yuzu Sauce!
Next time you go to your grocery store, try searching for yuzu flavored foods. Amazon also has a fantastic selection of yuzu foods including yuzu marmalade, yuzu juice, Hot Yuzu Sauce, and a yuzu flavored salt as well! Click here to see Amazon's selection!
By the way, Amazon no longer sells the Hot Yuzu Sauce that I used, however they do sell one by Trader Joes, "Trader Joe's Yuzu Hot Sauce" which seems like it might be comparable. 🙂
Also peruse the JapanGoldUSA.com site for other types of yuzu sauces as well as an amazing array of other Japanese foods!!
To conclude, if you've never tried yuzu, I hope you will give it a try! It's got such a fantastic flavor and aroma and is an awesome food!
1,000 Foods to Eat Project
Yuzu is food #31 in my 1,000 Foods To Eat Project!
Please follow along with me on this quest to try the 1,000 Foods To Eat Before You Die, from the book by Mimi Sheraton! Join me in this journey and discover new foods, experiences, and cuisines which I hope will add inspiration, fun, and joy to your life! For a list of the foods tried so far visit the 1,000 Foods to Eat Project page.
If you'd like to follow along and be a part of the 1,000 Foods Project, please sign up to get the latest recipes and inspiration for you to expand your food comfort zone! It's an incredible journey, please join me by signing up here. 🙂
Some Japanese Recipes That You May Enjoy!