What is Yuzu? .. And Other Japanese Citrus

June 29, 2023

What is Yuzu? Good question! Taste-wise, its somewhere between a lime and a lemon, but has a much more beautiful fragrance. Yuzu is used for main meals, deserts, and of course, mixed in with shoyu (soy sauce) to make condiments like Ponzu. 
However, yuzu isn't the only citrus that grows in Japan... 

Japanese Citrus Varieties



Yuzu Juice and Sudachi Juice

Tosa is a prefecture on the southern island of Japan called Shikoku. Its weather is ideal for growing citrus fruits such as yuzu. Yuzu is commonly called a mix of lemon and mandarin, giving it a unique taste which compliments fish dishes and salads. Yuzu is prized for its tart and refreshing flavour, which is similar to a combination of lemon, lime, and grapefruit. Often used in Japanese cuisine as a flavouring for dressings, sauces, marinades, and drinks. It is also a popular ingredient in cocktails and desserts! 

Sudachi Ponzu is a Japanese condiment made from ponzu sauce, which is a citrus-based sauce, and sudachi juice, which is a small, green citrus fruit native to Japan. Sudachi has a tart and refreshing flavour, similar to a combination of lemon and lime, and is commonly used in Japanese cuisine.


Ponzu can contain any of these Japanese citrus, although ponzu is most famous for being made with Yuzu, like this one from Mizkan.

Ponzu can contain (depending on the brand) sudachi, daidai, kabosu, and of course yuzu. In ponzu sauce, dashi (bonito and/or kelp) are added to soy sauce to make a deep refreshing marinade or dressing. Ponzu is often used for shabushabu, nabe dishes, Sashmi, grilled fish and meat. You can also get Aji-Pon, which is a citrus seasoned soy sauce and where the shoyu is the dominating flavour and the yuzu or other citrus fruits are just notes of taste on top.

Yuzu Kosho

Yuzu kosho is a green chilli pepper paste with yuzu citrus. it contains the skin of yuzu and chili pepper. It is pretty salty but gives a great flavour to food. It compliments chicken yakitori and tempura. It also used to add flavour to spaghetti these days in Japan. There are some yuzu kosho flavoured crisps and snacks that are available for purchase too. This kind of pasted pepper is made from kabosu and Shequasar. 

Shichimi Togarashi

(Shichimi (Japanese 7 spice) contains some citrus too. Sometimes the peel of  Mikan (Japanese mandarin / Satsuma) are used as one of the spices in shichimi. Shichimi adds colour and a fiery kick to noodle and rice dishes, soups, tempura and more.

Yuzu Miso  

Premium Yuzu Saikyo Miso - a complex flavour of citrus balanced with saikyo miso. Enhances the flavour of fish, vegetables, meat, tofu dishes, with a delicate yuzu flavour. It can also be added to sauces and dressing to lighten and add flavour. The process for making yuzu saikyo miso is similar to that of traditional saikyo miso. The soybeans and koji are mixed with salt and yuzu juice and zest, then left to ferment for a period of time. The result is a miso paste that has a delicate sweetness and a subtle citrus flavour.


Shiitake mushroom ponzu is made by simmering dried shiitake mushrooms, kombu, and other ingredients in a soy sauce and mirin (sweet rice wine) base, then adding sudachi juice for a tangy citrus flavour. The resulting sauce is savoury, umami-rich, and slightly sweet with a tangy, citrusy finish.




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