What Is Yuzu & How To Use It

Yuzu is a trending ingredient in 2024 but if you’ve ever seen it as an ingredient in a salad dressing and scratched your head, this guide is for you. I will walk you through everything you need to know about this complex yet versatile citrus fruit, including how to use yuzu in the kitchen.

what is yuzu?

What Is Yuzu?

You may be vaguely familiar with yuzu. In recent years in particular, this zesty, aromatic ingredient has been garnering popularity on cocktail menus and in condiments found at specialty grocery stores. It still hasn’t entered the mainstream fully yet, so it’s not surprising if you don’t know exactly what it is.

Yuzu is a lemon-lookalike fruit that likely originated in China or Tibet several centuries ago. This hybrid fruit is thought to have come from crossing mandarin and Ichang papeda. Its growing success quickly crossed over to Japan where it’s most widely used today. Most recipes featuring yuzu fruit and yuzu juice will be of Japanese origin, but it’s also gotten quite popular in Korea and in fusion cooking.

What Does Yuzu Taste Like?

Yuzu is a hybrid citrus encompassing notes of lemon, grapefruit, and mandarin. If you enjoy all these fruits, you’ll love yuzu. It’s known for being intensely aromatic, It looks a lot like a lemon – just smaller and bumpier.

In a dish, you may very well mistake yuzu for plain lemon, so what makes it different? Yuzu has more citric acid which turns up the bitter and sour notes significantly. This makes yuzu a popular addition to sauces or marinades with ingredients to balance things out – soy for salt, honey or sugar, a little something spicy, etc. Think of a tasty Asian stir-fry sauce that you add a healthy dash of lime or lemon to.


Where To Buy Yuzu

In Australia, yuzu fruit has the perfect climate opportunity to grow and farmers are taking advantage of that. While the community of growers is still relatively small, the market for yuzu is growing with fine dining and curious home cooks. As popularity increases, more trees are getting planted. You may see it pop up at grocery stores more frequently, and you especially won’t have trouble buying it online or at smaller, specialty markets.

Outside of South Asia (and Australia), yuzu can be very tough to find. For example, import of yuzu is illegal in the United States. This is simply to prevent the spread of disease. It is, however, fairly easy to spot in California. In warm areas, it grows in yards alongside other citrus fruits. Small farmers may have their own groves of yuzu, and those in this particular region may have luck finding it at roadside produce stands or farmer’s markets.

Yuzu Sauce & Store-Bought Yuzu Products

If you can’t get your hands on fresh citrus fruit, you may want to try yuzu juice or other yuzu-based products. If you’re in the U.S., Trader Joe’s has a pretty infamous yuzu hot sauce which gets its distinct flavour from a base of salt-cured yuzu paired with chiles and vinegar for a flavour explosion. In Australia, you can find lovely salad dressings and marinades featuring yuzu.

Yuzu Products

You may also be able to find yuzu ponzu sauce which is sold by various brands and is fairly common in standard supermarkets. This recipe is a careful marriage of yuzu juice and soy sauce with kombu strips (seaweed), katsuobushi (dried tuna), mirin, and rice vinegar. Yet again, we see yuzu featured in another umami bomb!

Finally, you can try your hand at crafting your own artisanal yuzu products. Yuzu can be used to craft interesting vinegar and liqueur infusions. If you can use lemon or lime for it, you can probably use fresh yuzu fruit as well. Preserved yuzu peels, marmalade, or curd… I can think of about a thousand things to try!

How To Use Yuzu

Yuzu fruit has cultural significance in several cuisines. Most notably, Japanese people have been cooking with this unique citrus for a long time despite its origins in China. Today, yuzu is being used in much more Asian fusion across the globe in addition to Korean cuisine where it is referred to instead as yuja.

While the scent, flavour, and extra tartness in yuzu may be pretty intense, yuzu is very versatile. First, I’d recommend simply using it in any way you’d use lemon. Try squeezing or zesting a bit of yuzu over fresh grilled seafood or chicken, whipping up a homemade dressing or marinade with it, or flavouring some roasted veggies.

It can also add a welcome lightness to a fatty meat dish like ahi, wagyu, or pork belly.

Any lemon-based dessert can be taken up to the next level by using a little yuzu juice or zest instead of regular citron. Think yuzu tart with black sesame or yuzu cheesecake. Yum!

Lastly, you could keep some handy at the bar to garnish cocktails with. A slice of yuzu rind on your favourite cocktail could be brilliant, and it will look gorgeous!

Check out these incredible-looking yuzu recipes.

Yuzu Recipes
Irena Macri
By Irena Macri

About the author: Hi, I’m Irena Macri. I share delicious recipes that I have cooked and loved. I am a published cookbook author, have been food blogging for over 10 years and have a Diploma in Nutrition. You will find many healthy recipes as well as my favourite comfort food. More about me here | Subscribe to my newsletter and freebies

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