That strange yellow fruit that looks like a bumpy, stout lemon is, in fact, not a lemon. How well do you know the yuzu citrus?
ANCIENT ASIAN ORIGINS
Yuzu (citrus junos) is a hybrid citrus from the crossing of the ancient citrus called Ichang papeda and a sour mandarin orange, originating in China. It is widely used in Japan and Korea, where it was introduced during the Tang Dynasty sometime between the 7th and 9th centuries. Yuzu is known for its hardiness, surviving cold winters in temperatures as low as -9°C.
A CELEBRATED INGREDIENT IN THE KITCHEN
Yuzu is mainly cultivated in Japan, China and Korea where the fruit is still used in centuries-old dishes, marmalades and teas, but also as a flavouring in savoury recipes. Since the yuzu is less sharp than a lemon, its fruitiness is more evident – it is wonderful for brightening up vegetable, meat and fish dishes. In the early 2010s the western world also caught up and yuzu came to the spotlight as a precious ingredient in many fine restaurants, patisseries and bakeries. Just to name a couple: chef Ferran Adrià of the famed El Bulli restaurant used a yuzu meringue in his dish ‘El Bosque Animado’, while Jordi Bordas, the celebrated world champion pastry chef dedicated his ‘Yuzu à l’Aube’ dessert entirely to the yuzu fruit! Yuzu has definitely done its rounds in the top kitchens of the world.
A YUZU HOT BATH – THE TOUJI TRADITION IN JAPAN
In Japan, yuzu forms part of an old tradition on the night of the winter solstice, called Touji. It is customary on Touji to take a hot bath with floating whole and even cut yuzu on this cold winters night, which is believed to have wonderful benefits for the body and mind.