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NOURISHING ESSENTIALS (October 2020) - Yuzu (柚子): JAPAN’S BELOVED CITRUS

 YUZU SANSHO

YUZU SANSHO
(柚子山椒)

Producer: Tajima Brewery
Prefecture: Hyogo

Growing wild in the mountains of Hyogo Prefecture are short, sturdy trees with sharp thorns known as prickly ash. These trees produce sansho, a Japanese spice with a woodsy, tart flavor and a heat similar to Sichuan peppercorn.

One rare variety of sansho, known as asakura sansho, is sought after by chefs at high-class Japanese restaurants and three-star restaurants around the world due to its unique flavor and mild spiciness. Asakura sansho has a history dating back over 400 years, but almost became extinct as its shallow root system makes it difficult to cultivate. It took farmers in the Tajima region of northern Hyogo Prefecture over a decade to unlock the secrets of growing this rare peppercorn which has now become a regional specialty.

Ingredients: Yuzu peel, sansho, salt, vinegar
Suggested uses: Use as a seasoning in soups (miso soup, noodle soups, etc.), with grilled meat, fish or vegetables, in pasta dishes, in stir fries, or on gyoza. 
Nutritional information: N/A

 

PRODUCER: Suki Tokusan

Suki Tokusan was founded as a way to bolster the declining population of Suki, a small village in Miyazaki Prefecture located on Kyushu island and separated from the neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture by a range of volcanic mountains known as Kirishima Mountains. When viewed from far away, the Kirishima Mountain range appears like an island floating in a sea of fog, and is full of lush beautiful nature.

Suki village merged with the nearby city of Miyazaki after its population fell to only 2,000 people. With a desire to revive the area and bring attention to its agricultural treasures, Suki Tokusan began specializing in locally grown ingredients, such as chestnuts and yuzu, to create their own regional products such these yuzu senbei and sour yuzu chips.

YUZU SENBEI

YUZU SENBEI
(柚子せんべい)

Producer: Suki Tokusan
Prefecture: Miyazaki

Senbei are local treats that have the sweetness of a cookie with the crispy crunch of a cracker, and are often given as gifts or served to guests. They can be found in a myriad of flavors and textures based on their regional ingredients.

These senbei have a subtle citrus sweet taste from the added yuzu, which is sourced from Kobayashi City in Miyazaki Prefecture. Yuzu farmers in Miyazaki Prefecture are known for their commitment to traditional cultivation and small batch processing to ensure consistent quality of their specialty products.

Ingredients: Wheat, egg, granulated sugar, soft brown sugar, starch syrup, sugar, yuzu paste, raw yuzu paste, starch
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or with tea or coffee.
Nutritional information: N/A

SOUR YUZU CHIPS

SOUR YUZU CHIPS
(ゆずスッパイチップス)

Producer: Suki Tokusan
Prefecture: Miyazaki

The flavorful, aromatic peel of yuzu can be thinly sliced and used when cooking, pickling vegetables, or delicately candied to make these Sour Yuzu Chips. Suki Tokusan artfully stews the peels in natural granulated sugar to add the right amount of sweetness to the tart, acidic notes of the yuzu peel. Compared to other candied yuzu peels, these Sour Yuzu Chips emphasize the sourness of the peel to achieve a balance of acidity and sweetness known as amazuppai in Japanese.

Ingredients: Yuzu peel, granulated sugar, citric acid, vitamin C
Suggested uses: Enjoy as is or chop finely and sprinkle on yogurt or ice cream, or stir into muffin batter or scone dough.
Nutritional information: N/A

YUZU SOBA NOODLES WITH TSUYU DIPPING SAUCE  

YUZU SOBA NOODLES WITH TSUYU DIPPING SAUCE
(柚子そば)

Producer: Honda shoten
Prefecture: Shimane

Japanese soba noodles, made from buckwheat, have a buttery smooth nutty flavor. Unlike ramen noodles, which are served in a rich broth with toppings, soba noodles are often served plain with just a simple, soy based dipping sauce on the side. The noodles are kept separate to preserve their texture and to ensure that they don’t become soggy. A single bite-full of noodles is picked up with chopsticks, quickly dipped in the sauce, then eaten right away.

Honda Shoten uses 100 years of traditional raw soba making methods to create their additive-free, homemade soba from freshly ground domestic buckwheat flour. One can judge the quality of soba noodles by the lack of odor when boiled - low quality soba noodles carry an odor, while these high quality noodles are virtually odorless. The noodles are made within an hour of being milled to preserve their flavor and can maintain their freshness even when stored at room temperature. The addition of yuzu in the dipping sauce gives a unique twist to the classic soba noodle sauce, providing a citrus zest to the sweet mirin and umami-rich soy sauce.

Ingredients: Noodles: Wheat flour, buckwheat flour, yuzu (from Japan), salt, pumpkin powder (from Japan); Tsuyu (sauce): Soy sauce (pure brew), mirin, sugar, bonito extract, salt, potato shavings, frigate mackerel shavings, kelp (some ingredients include wheat and soybeans)
Suggested uses: Boil the noodles for 3 mins then drain. Can be served hot by adding 180ml of hot water to the soup included, or served cold by adding 50ml of cold water to the soup included (you can also add ice to make it colder).
Nutritional information:  N/A 

 YUZU JUICE

YUZU JUICE
(柚子果汁)

Producer: Yuzurikko
Prefecture: Tokushima

Although bright yellow yuzu fruits can be seen growing throughout Japan in the fall, finding fresh yuzu abroad can be challenging. This 100% authentic, fresh Japanese yuzu juice from Tokushima brings the subtle, grapefruit-like flavor of yuzu to your kitchen.

Tokushima is famous for its yuzu. The region’s mountainous terrain and climate is well suited to growing flavorful, juicy yuzu with its cool, rainy summers. Yuzurikko was founded by Sumie Misawa, a 66-year-old woman who noticed that many pesticide-free yuzu in the area were being thrown away or left unused, as aging farmers were no longer able to hike into the mountains to harvest them. She didn’t want to see these precious fruits go to waste so she decided to create her own yuzu company and brought in younger farmers to help with the harvest.

Ingredients: Yuzu juice
Suggested uses: Use whenever the dish calls for a splash of citrus. Just a few drops will transform vinaigrettes and dressings. Try mixing with mayonnaise to make a dip for seafood, or added to ceviches, fish dishes and even desserts.
Nutritional information: N/A 

YUZU SALT

YUZU SALT
(ゆずの塩)

Producer: Mera Foods
Prefecture: Miyazaki

Salt has a special significance in Japan far beyond its culinary uses. In Shinto belief, salt has the power to purify land and guard a home from impurities. Sumo wrestlers throw handfuls of salt before fighting to purify the ring.

Salt is also cherished in Japanese food. Both plain and seasoned salts can be found in a small dish accompanying many dishes including tempura and other fried foods. Instead of dipping the food into a sauce, you delicately touch the fried food into the salt to pick up a hint of flavor and to enhance the flavor of the food. This artisanal salt from Mera Foods includes locally cultivated yuzu peels which are dried and ground before being combined with salt left behind by the high tides around Miyazaki prefecture.

Ingredients: Salt (from Miyazaki prefecture), yuzu (from Miyazaki prefecture)
Suggested uses: Sprinkle on soups, pasta, chicken, fish, or vegetables just before serving, or on sweets such as ice cream. You can also use it when cooking but try to add it as close to the end as possible to maximum its flavor.
Nutritional information: N/A