Yuzu Kosho 柚子こしょう (Chilli Paste with Yuzu Citrus Zest)

yuzukoshou_pAs 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.

44 Replies to “Yuzu Kosho 柚子こしょう (Chilli Paste with Yuzu Citrus Zest)”

  1. Unfortunately I still can’t find yuzu in any form locally. I still have the remainder of the small bottle of soju I bought last year and should really figure out something to do with it to use it up so I can try another kind of alcohol. I know that lime peel isn’t close to the same but I’d be tempted to make this recipe with it … as an experiment. 🙂

    In the meantime, I seem to have hit a wall when it comes to enthusiasm for trying new recipes and I’m taking a break after last week’s 2 desserts (almond and cranberry biscotti and florentines).

    1. I like shochu (though I have never tasted the Korean version) also with lime slices (I have yuzu only several weeks a year). I think you could try this recipe maybe with a more aromatic peel? Mandarin or (I have heard) Meyer lemons are a good idea. Though lime might be a good idea too. Let me know how it worked.
      I also experience (quite often) a period when I don’t feel like experimenting.

  2. Yuzu Kosho is one of my favorite condiment! I’ve gotta hunt down some yuzu to make some. Love this. My mouth is watering just by looking at your picture. 😛

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. It was so easy to prepare and so good! (Actually it would be much more fragrant if I had more yuzu fruits, but one was better than nothing!).

  3. I love yuzu! I usually have it in tea – yujacha – but this looks fantastic. I’ve had this before but didn’t know it was called yuzu kosho. Thanks for the info. 🙂 I need to get my hands on some yuja fruit and try this. Hope you are well!

    1. Thank you, Gomo. I saw the yuzu tea (it was a kind of jelly) in a Korean shop in France (I sometimes go to Lyon where they have a Korean grocery shop; here we don’t have a single one) and didn’t buy because I was afraid it would be too sweet… and I hate sweet drinks.

  4. You’re killing me Sissi! Every time I visit your blog I want to run out and buy more chiles. 🙂 Unfortunately, most of the chiles are about gone around here. I’m not at all familiar with Yuzu citrus and not sure if they even sell it at the local Asian market, but I’m going to look for it. Is it like a lime? Can you use a microplanner to zest it? I’m still waiting for a sip of the sochu with yuzu. 🙂

    1. Thank you, MJ. Here we have Turkish chillies until late autumn (they sell chillies from different countries also in winter but they are not so aromatic). Yuzu looks like a cross between a mandarin and a lime (it’s a bit squashed like a mandarin). Don’t worry, the only way I can have yuzu here is when I bring them from Japan in my luggage 😉 It can be green or light orange when it ripens. In September yuzu fruits were not ripe yet, hence my green fruit on the photograph.
      You might not have yuzu, but maybe you can get Meyer lemon? I have read that people experiment with Meyer lemon peel here (the zest must be aromatic, which is not the case of most citrus). I have used a small zesting tool here (a microplanner would be great of course). I plant to copy this condiment with aromatic mandarin peel (but there is only one variety – at least sold here – which is fragrant enough).
      You are always invited for a glass of shochu!

  5. What a pretty green chili paste! I have not seen yuzu sold in any stores where I live. If I do see it, I will be sure to buy it and try it!

    1. I think you should give some other dishes a go because sushi is far from being the majority of what the Japanese eat. My Japanese friends often don’t eat sushi even once a week (they do like it though!).

  6. Yu are so creative:) Took me a while to figure out what Yuzu Kosho was. I am guessing it would be comparable to pickled chili (which you posted recently, and I bought from the supermarket):)

  7. Ahhh I wish I could get Yuzu, I really want to know what it tastes like. non of the Japanese here are going to japan otherwise I would ask them to bring me some. =D
    If you are saying that it’s like citrus then this jam is a must try for us. Do you think this paste could be used anyhow in Indian cooking (fusion style maybe)? I am so curious!!

    1. Yuzu is very fragrant (think about the most fragrant mandarin you have ever had and multiply it by ten or twenty!). I’m sure you can use other fragrant citrus zest here (I’m planning to do so with mandarins, but when the very fragrant ones appear in shops). I think you can experiment with it in any ethnic dish!

  8. This condiment sounds and looks delicious, I think I would enjoy the combination of citrus and spicy…unfortunately I cannot find fresh yuzu in the area…
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful words Sissi, I really appreciate all the support.
    Have a lovely week ahead my dear 😀

  9. Between your lovely blog and MJ’s, I’m being opened up to some many different chile applications and inspirations! Lovely recipe Sissi and such a pretty colour on your paste too. You’re so lucky to be able to bring yuzu into Switzerland. The customs laws are especially rigorous in California — there is no possibility of bringing anything living or life-giving into the State: seed, fruit, plant or otherwise and the authorities are very strict about it (a crop/farming based economy and they will not take any chances). Having said that, there are few living things I have not been able to find here in CA 😉 (as my husband says, “it’s as though every plant in the universe wants to grow here” and can you blame them? ;o) so I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for yuzu. Thank you for introducing me!

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. You know, I think they always need an excuse… (I cannot stop thinking about raw milk cheese and other European food stuff which is treated at the US customs like dangerous weapons…).
      Anyway, you are the lucky one because while I have to go to Japan to buy it, you have it growing in your own state! I have read about yuzu grown in California and here is an example of a farm selling it (maybe they sell it also in some Japanese shops/farmers markets?): http://www.pearsonranch.com/yuzu.html. Hurry up if you want to taste it (I think the season ends in November).

      1. Thanks Sissi, I will look out for yuzu at our market this weekend! (I’m volunteering at a pumpkin patch on Sunday– lol — sports fundraiser, but I should be able to escape for a few moments to make it to our beloved market…).

    1. Thank you, Katerina. You are most welcome! I’m planning to experiment with other fragrant citrus zest too (no more yuzu, alas).

  10. As soon as I saw this photo I immediately thought, hmmm, I wonder if she puts this into her ramen! Incidentally, I did make your gorgeous Ramen but didn’t photograph it, coming down with a cold I really just wanted soup! It was wonderful, satisfying both emotionally and flavourfully too. I did also make the Japanese sesame spice mix which I may blog about sometime. This condiment looks beautiful and sounds delicious, although I am not sure that the fruit is available here.

    1. Thank you so much, Eva. I’m so happy you liked the ramen! It’s so kind of you to mention it. You can experiment it with any other fragrant citrus zest (I will do it soon!). I hope you feel better now.

  11. I can’t believe that you made homemade yuzu kosho! I saw Nancy in documentary film a long ago. – amazing woman! Her son is (was?) attending University here in Oregon. I hope to meet her in person someday. I love your photo!

    1. Thank you, Shashi. You can see it vaguely behind the jar. It’s green now but the ripe version is orange.

    1. Thank you, Kiran. Please let me know if you like it with Meyer lemons (I have hear they are very aromatic!).

  12. Totally impressive to make yuzu kosho from scratch! I think I saw first yuzu in store the other day. It was still tiny tiny green yuzu and cost almost $2 or so. We use yuzu kosho for a lot of things and it’s nice that yours are homemade, preservative free and all. You continue to inspire me and others who are new to Japanese ingredients!

    1. You are so kind, Nami. Thank you for such warm words… I am very flattered! You know it was so easy to prepare, I cannot believe every Japanese home cook doesn’t prepare it since yuzu is so cheap in Japan! Here I saw yuzu only once: they were old, wilted and cost twice as much! Needless to say, I will experiment with other citrus zest soon!

    1. Thank you so much, Robert-Gilles. I have somehow missed this recipe on your blog (or maybe I didn’t know you yet…). Thank you for the link!

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