Translated by Hilary Keyes
Yuzu Kosho (Yuzu Pepper Seasoning) - Japanese Encyclopedia
Written by ニコ
A spice that has become quite popular recently with the Japanese is yuzu kosho. Not only limited to flavoring Japanese dishes, it can be extensively used with Western-style foods too.
What's Yuzu Kosho?
Yuzu kosho is a product originally from the Kyushu region, where it has been a part of the cuisine for many years. The history of this condiment only goes back about 50 years or so, making it a far more recent introduction to Japanese cuisine than miso paste or soy sauce. It has only just become widely available in supermarkets across Japan, which has allowed it to become far more well-known than in the past.
The ingredients that make up this paste are simple: the peel from the yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit, which is finely minced and mixed with salt and minced togarashi or chili peppers, and allowed to mature. As it is mainly made with green chili peppers, yuzu kosho typically becomes an emerald green paste. The characteristic mild sourness of the yuzu combined with the pungent spice of the peppers makes for a truly flavorful spice. With the exception of the Kyushu region, yuzu are also a noted product in Tokushima and Kochi prefectures, and their own variations of this condiment are sold in stores as well.
The name 'kosho', which is typically the word used for black pepper (or peppercorns) in Japanese, is not typically applied to foods made with chili peppers. Rather the Kyushu dialect of Japanese has used the word 'kosho' to refer to chili peppers that other regions call 'togarashi' for centuries, and the name 'yuzu kosho' stuck.
Many Delicious Tastes! The Uses of Yuzu Kosho
In the Kyushu region yuzu kosho is often used in hot pot cooking and with boiled tofu, but it is also popularly enjoyed with sashimi, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), oden (a stewed dish with many ingredients) and others.
Once the only spice seen in udon or soba noodle shops, shichimi togarashi, a seven chili pepper blend of spices, is now often found next to a pot of yuzu kosho. As yuzu flavoring has often been included in the dashi bases of both udon and soba, the number of people who prefer this spice to shichimi togarashi has grown in recent years. Yuzu kosho is not only easy to match with Japanese foods though; yuzu kosho provides an excellent accent to pasta, pizza, carpaccio, roast beef and other Western dishes as well.
Yuzu kosho is most commonly sold in a tube and can be easily purchased from any supermarket, making it a perfect souvenir of any visit to Japan. And, when you want to enjoy your souvenir back home, we highly recommend this: mix some of the yuzu kosho with olive oil, (2:1, olive oil to yuzu kosho), and spread this mixture on top of a freshly toasted baguette. It tastes amazing, makes for a perfect appetizer and goes very well with wine.
It also can be used in dressings for chicken salad, and has the added benefit of getting rid of the meaty scent of the chicken too. It tastes delicious!
Only Available Here! Regional Candies with Yuzu Kosho
Japanese snacks, especially potato chips, are also really popular souvenirs, so while in Japan, why not visit the home of yuzu kosho and pick up some of their region-limited snacks to try?
Kyushu limited yuzu kosho flavored potato chips, and yuzu kosho kakinotane, the spicy baked or fried mochi chips that have recently become popular in North America, are both so delicious you might find yourself unable to stop eating them once you start. Other than savory snacks though, there are also chocolates and other sweets made with yuzu kosho as well. An incredibly popular souvenir, Japanese Kitkat bars featuring yuzu kosho are also a hit; the flavor of the yuzu, spice of the chili pepper combined with a bitter chocolate coating create a particularly decadent chocolate bar.
Yuzu kosho based snacks are not only limited to the Kyushu region however, there are limited time events selling these products in other parts of Japan, so if you happen to see one in the area you are visiting, you should snap up these treats right away. A bit different than the standard green tea flavored treats, yuzu kosho snacks are something you just have to try!