Yuzu Kosho, The Missing Condiment in Your Life
Hot, sour and salty, with a just a hint of fruity sweetness, the Japanese condiment yuzu kosho has become a staple of the creative kitchen.
It’s nothing more than searing-hot chilies, salt and the aromatic zest of the yuzu citrus. It comes in green and red varieties—the green from green chilies and unripe citrus, the red from red chilies and ripe citrus. And, they differ subtly in flavor: The green is sharper and more herbal, while the red is rounder and fruitier. But, they can be used interchangeably.
Traditionally stirred into “hot pot” dishes and soups, it also makes a nice accompaniment or rub for briny fish and juicy beef. Steakhouse chains Nick & Stef’s and Wolfgang Puck’s Cut both offer yuzu kosho sauces alongside classics like Béarnaise.
“We’re using it now in an oyster mignonette, but it’s also great for cutting richness in meat,” says Chris Kajioka, chef-owner of Honolulu’s new Senia. “You can use it on almost any fish, meat or even vegetables to give subtle spice and brightness.”
Where to Try It
Spinach chitarra (egg pasta) with smoked whitefish and yuzu kosho butter
Catfish tacos with tobiko, Oregon wasabi and yuzu kosho
Scallop carpaccio with yuzu kosho, smoked sea salt, ponzu and olive oil
Miso-braised beef short rib with taro root, Asian pear and yuzu kosho slaw
- Yuzu kosho is widely available in Asian groceries and online, but you can make your own in a mortar and pestle or food processor. Grind together 3 serrano or green Thai chilies (stemmed and seeded), the zest of 6 yuzu or 4 Meyer lemons, 1 tablespoon salt and just enough citrus juice to make a paste.
- There are yuzu kosho-flavored Kit Kats in Japan.
- For a change of pace, add a little yuzu kosho to a simple salsa of chopped tomato, onion and cilantro.
- When you buy yuzu kosho, also pick up a bottle of yuzu juice. Its floral flavor, like a mix of sour orange and grapefruit, is a great change from lemon or lime in cocktails and sauces.
Yuzu kosho needs wines that can stand up to its spicy, tart and salty flavors.
When using it on fish, Yukiko Kawasaki, wine director at Yellowtail in Las Vegas, likes Merry Edwards’ 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from the Russian River Valley. “Floral notes and rich body from a substantial percentage of Sauvignon Musqué gives beautiful harmony with the herbal touch of Sauvignon Blanc, while a hint of French oak helps…balance the yuzu kosho’s acidity.”
For chicken, Kawasaki pairs yuzu kosho-driven dishes with Favia 2013 Rompecabezas, a Rhône-style red blend from Amador, California.
“The [yuzu kosho’s] spiciness goes well with the wine’s aromas of cocoa and black tea, and the pepperiness of the Grenache and Syrah balance the [chicken’s] richness,” Kawasaki says.
These chicken wings crisp up in the oven, so you can focus on the game rather than the deep fryer.
- 3 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, cut into wings and drumettes
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons softened or melted butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons red yuzu kosho, divided
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, divided
- ¼ cup mayonnaise or yogurt
- Celery sticks (optional)
Preheat oven to 300°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, and set wire rack on top. Pat wings dry with paper towels. In large bowl, toss wings with baking powder and salt. Place on rack, leaving a little space between each wing.
Bake for 30 minutes. Turn wings over. Increase heat to 450°F. Bake another 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Toss wings in “Buffalo” sauce (recipe below). Bake 10 minutes. Serve warm with dipping sauce and celery sticks, if desired. Serves 4-6.
Whisk together butter, honey, 2 tablespoons yuzu kosho and 1 tablespoon lime juice.
Whisk together mayo or yogurt with 1 teaspoon yuzu kosho and 1 tablespoon lime juice.
This impressive seafood dish comes together in minutes and showcases the complex flavors of yuzu kosho in every component.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3½ teaspoons green yuzu kosho, divided
- 2 tuna steaks, 1-inch each, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 avocado, halved and pitted
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, plus 1 teaspoon
- ¼ cup julienned apple
- ¼ cup julienned cucumber
- 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
Combine soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2 teaspoons yuzu kosho. Coat tuna. Set aside.
Scoop flesh from avocado into a small mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon yuzu kosho and 1 teaspoon lime juice and mash into paste. Season with salt, to taste, and set aside.
Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon honey or sugar, and ½ teaspoon yuzu kosho. Toss with apples and cucumber. Set aside.
Coat surface of large skillet or grill pan with olive oil over medium-high heat. When very hot, add tuna. Cook 2 minutes per side (don’t move tuna while cooking) and remove from heat. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice thickly.
To assemble, divide avocado purée between two plates. Fan sliced tuna over purée, and top with cucumber apple relish. Serves 2.
- 1Yuzu Kosho “Buffalo” Wings
- 2Yuzu Kosho-Rubbed Tuna with Spicy Avocado Purée