As I have mentioned, I brought lots of food products from my September trip to Japan. Among them was a dozen of marvellous fragrant yuzu fruits, which (in case some of you hesitate) travel very well and keep for quite a long time in the fridge. I have been using them with my favourite Japanese drink: shochu on the rocks; a slice or two of slightly squashed yuzu makes shochu incredibly fragrant and delicious. When a couple of weeks ago I saw a yuzu kosho recipe in Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Japanese Farm Food, I decided to use my last fruit to prepare this condiment.
Yuzu kosho(u) (柚子こしょう) is a chilli pepper and yuzu zest paste I regularly buy and enjoy in ramen (see my ramen recipe here). In Japan it is also used other soups (nabemono), with tempura, grilled meats, tofu…. It originates from Kyushu island and, apparently, its popularity is constantly increasing. Yuzu kosho can be green or red and made with green zest as well as orange yuzu (ripe) peel. Even though composed of only salt, zest and chilli peppers, yuzu kosho has an incredibly complex and very bold taste, not to mention its strong unforgettable aroma. It makes dishes lighter and livelier, giving them an unusual, unique sophisticated touch.
I had lots of green chilli peppers, but… I was left with only one yuzu, while Mrs Hachisu’s recipe called for ten fruits. I decided to reverse the proportions, using more chilli and less yuzu zest. In short, this is a cheap version of yuzu koshou for those who have access only to expensive yuzu or who, like me, treasure the few fruits brought from Japan. Actually, maybe it should be rather called kosho yuzu instead? Anyway, in spite of this radical change, the result was excellent, I guess thanks to the powerful peel aroma. Even though I no longer have any yuzu fruits (and rather no chance of buying them in Switzerland) I will be repeating this experiment with other aromatic citrus peel. I already have a certain fragrant mandarin in mind…
TIPS: If you have an easy access to yuzu, increase the zest ratio versus chilli peppers. For the original recipe, check the fascinating Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singleton Hachisu.
If you don’t have yuzu, try substituting it with other aromatic citrus zest (and please let me know about the outcome!).
The jar tastes better after several days in the fridge and then keeps up to one month (it can be frozen too).
You can use any chilli peppers of any colour.
If you have ripe yuzu, it will be light orange, not green. Ripe yuzu zest is apparently less aromatic (but I have never compared).
Nancy Hachisu advises using a Japanese mortar (suribachi) instead of a food processor. I was too lazy to use it for such a small amount of condiment (a big part would stay on the walls of my big suribachi…), but apparently such a method gives better results.
Preparation: 10 minutes + several days in the fridge
Ingredients (yields one 100 – 150 ml jar):
zest from one yuzu (chopped or grated, but make sure you don’t take the bitter white pith)
10 heaped teaspoons chopped chilli peppers (seeded or not)
2 flat tablespoons salt
Mix everything in a food processor (baby food processor is perfect here) or grind in the Japanese mortar (suribachi).
Put into a jar, cover and refrigerate.
Start eating after several days.
Yuzu kosho keeps for at least a month in the fridge.