I have a food challenge for you. What to do with the yuzu juice I got in my Christmas stocking, possibly not even in 2014, and have so far used precisely once? Its only outing was as part of the dressing for a crunchy Asian-inspired salad with some smoked oily fish of some sort, if I remember rightly.
Yuzu is one of those ingredients that seemed to come from nowhere. A few years ago I’d never heard of the Japanese fruit and now it’s all over the place in salad dressings and cocktails and so on.
Although, having said that, you can't really get them whole in this country, only the bottled juice. And I couldn’t even find that in my local Oriental supermarket so had to make do with this “citrus seasoning” that I found in Sainsburys. I’ve had it in restaurants though and this is pretty close (not to mention cheaper). Just to make sure the whole thing wasn’t a big con, I did a blind taste test against some bottled lemon juice and am pleased to report that you can definitely tell them apart. The yuzu is sweeter and slightly more floral, still tangy but not as outright sour as the lemon. It fits with the most common description of it which is being like a cross between a lemon and a mandarin.
Although I must sound a warning note and say that my bottle claims it must be consumed within four weeks of opening so I’m not sure how advisable it is to use your stocking filler at all...
Nevertheless, if you do decide to throw caution to the exotic, citrussy winds, maybe the following will be of use...
Summer Vegetable Salad With Yuzu Soy Dressing
This is probably not dissimilar to the dressing you made once before. But I think the salad dressing is yuzu's natural home in the world of savoury things so I am going to include it anyway, mainly for the benefit of anyone who hasn't tried it. Also, all these vegetables are in season right now and make for a nice British-meets-Asian sort of vibe. It would go well with a tuna steak or a few slices of tofu, fried on a high heat to crisp them up a bit.
- 2tbsp sesame seeds (I used one each of golden and black but it doesn’t really make a difference except aesthetically)
- 200g baby courgettes
- 4tbsp sesame oil
- 3tbsp soy sauce
- 4tbsp yuzu juice
- 1tsp sugar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 200g green beans
- 200g tenderstem broccoli
- 1 small, ripe mango
- 1 red chilli
- Toast the sesame seeds in a large dry frying pan for a couple of minutes then set aside.
- Trim the baby courgettes and cut each in half. Crush the garlic and put it in the pan with 1tbsp of sesame oil over a high heat. Add the courgettes in a single layer and leave, undisturbed for a minute. Check to see if they have taken on any colour. If they are going a but golden brown turn them and give them a minute on the other side. Add 1tbsp yuzu juice and let them cook until it evaporates (should be pretty quick). When done put the courgettes into your salad bowl.
- Steam the beans and the broccoli for five or six minutes. They should be tender but with bite. Add them to the courgettes when they’re done.
- Peel the mango and cut it into smallish slices. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Slice the spring onions into thin rounds. Add them all to the bowl, along wth the seasme seeds.
- Put 3tbsp each of soy sauce, seame oil and yuzu juice into a jar or salad dressing bottle with the sugar and shake. Pour over the salad and toss so everything is combined. Serve.
Ifs And Ands
- This works warm or cold and can be adapted to almost any green vegetable.
- The dressing would also be good over steamed Bok Choi or Choi Sum as a side dish.
Delicious but not terribly original. I think things might get more interesting yuzu-wise if one turned to sweet stuff. Apparnetly the zest is very fragrant but, since we only have the juice in the UK, we will have to do without it.
Yuzu & Thyme Meringue Pie
I’ve adapted Theo Randall’s exemplary lemon tart recipe to become a yuzu meringue pie.
I sometimes find the fillings of lemon meringue pies a bit gummy and not lemony enough. Even Delia’s I’m afraid (the cornflour, I think). And although the Randall tart is the best I've ever come across, I was always a bit saddened by the egg whites that went to waste when I made it. So when I hit on the idea of whipping the otherwise-wasted whites with sugar to turn the tart into a super-lemony pie I was terribly pleased with myself.
Here, I just replaced the lemon with yuzu and, ooking for something aromatic to replace the unavailable zest, experimented with thyme which worked really well. Also I had some sesame seeds left over from making the salad so they went in the pastry.
- 175g (6oz) plain flour
- 50g (1¾oz) icing sugar
- 120g (4oz) butter
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 8 egg yolks
- 4 whole eggs
- 130ml yuzu juice
- bunch of thyme
- 400g sugar
- 200g butter
- Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5.
- Combine the flour, icing sugar and butter in a food processor or with finger tips until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Mis in the sesame seeds and then add two egg yolks and work lightly with your hands to form a ball of pastry. Wrap this in clingfilm and leave to chill in the fridge for an hour.
- Divide the ball into eight and roll each piece out into a circle to fit inside a 10cm mini flan tin. Or else use a single 22cm one. Put a circle of baking paper inside each and fill with baking beans, rice or coins.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes (take them out when the pastry is turning golden brown) then remove from the oven and take out the baking beans. Leave the oven on though.
- Meanwhile, put the yuzu juice, butter, 200g sugar and thyme in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water and heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove the thyme and discard.
- Beat the eggs and egg yolks together and add to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture acquires a custard-y, lemon curd-y consistency. Give it a whisk if it looks a bit lumpy. When it’s ready, pour the filling into the pastry.
- Whisk half of the egg whites until they are white, fluffy and retain the shape of a peak when the whisk is lifted. You could do it by hand but personally I think anyone who does is insane. What are they trying to prove? When the whites are like little fluffy clouds, whisk in the remaining 200g sugar, bit by bit, until the meringue is glossy.
- Spoon it on top of the pie filling and put the whole lot in the oven for 15 minutes or until the meringue is going brown on top. Then take it out and leave to cool before serving. Personally I think it's even better after a night in the fridge.
Ifs And Ands
- Even if you don’t have any yuzu, I would make Theo Randall’s tart. It’s delicious. With or without meringue on top. I bet it would be nice made with lime too.
- Fresh ginger might work instead of the thyme.
- I considered adding a tiny bit of wasabi paste to the meringue but lost my nerve. Maybe on a future occasion - a bit of heat would fight the sweetness.
- Freeze the leftover egg yolks for another time. Whisk them up with the others (with an extra 50g sugar per egg white) and blob onto a baking tray. Cook overnight in a very low oven for crunchy meringues of the kind needed to make Eton Mess.
Other Yuzu-Inspired Ideas
I didn't have time to try all of these out but they are worth considering.
- Try mixing a spoonful or two into some mayonnaise for dipping tempura or panko-fried prawns into.
- A yuzu jelly would be lovely, as would a sorbet.
- Cocktails also seem the way to go. Try equal parts yuzu juice and vodka topped up with Champagne or prosecco and a couple of crushed mint leaves. (Add a bit of sugar syrup if you like it sweeter).
- The reliable, but fancy, Great British Chefs website also has some ideas.
- Now, after saying the word "yuzu" over and over again just try getting the music from Labyrinth out of your head. I’ve had it going round my head the whole time I was thinking about this question...
UPDATE (03/09/2015): Since writing this I have been thinking more about yuzu. It sort of plagued me. I could taste it in my sleep and didn't fully feel I had done it justice. I saw a reccomendation for these Yuzu Sake truffles from Prestat and thought that sounded like a good combination, especially with the white chocolate.
The idea of a yuzu-flavoured creme brulee also occurred to me. Perhaps with chunks of mango at the bottom.