Yuzu: the citrus that seems to have fallen from a truck | Fruit

Shame on the food world. Constantly on the hunt for the next avocado, but never comes close. Yuzu is definitely not the next avocado. Still, he’s testing it out in college because he, too, is a culinary weathervane with a peculiar history, one that he knows well once you get the hang of and is absolutely everywhere once you start looking for it.

The Basic Bones: Yuzu is a fruit that originated in China, now tends to be grown in Japan, and in its raw state is pretty ugly. It looks a bit like a lime that fell off a truck, and actually tastes a bit like that, too: sort of a strong lime-lemon-grapefruit hybrid. It’s not exactly subtle, but mixed with other stuff, it certainly has the audacity to go mainstream.

I first came across it in Nigel Slater’s 2013 book Eat: The Little Book of Fast Food, with a side note saying it was available in specialty Japanese supermarkets; Five years later, it comes in four forms at Waitrose and as a condiment at both Sainsbury’s and Tesco.

Nobu (the fancy all-fish, no-carb restaurant), celebrities, and various outposts have been doing magical things with yuzu for a long time. It’s the (no longer) secret ingredient in Nobu’s footballer’s wife’s classic miso-marinated black cod, and now the restaurant has turned it into a one-bite tart as part of its Nobu-affordable holiday afternoon tea (£30 with a glass of wine). It’s not the first place you think of at Christmas, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to make afternoon tea.

The tart is a smashing success, the yuzu custard, all sparkling and full of life, and barely placed in its case, dwarfs the rest of what is a grand tea party, served on china with black tea and tempura sandwiches from snow crab. The whole thing is light-hearted: each macaron and cake is shaped like something seasonal, like a tree or reindeer, comically clashing with the restaurant’s no-nonsense interiors.

If you want the full yuzu experience, my advice is to treat it like a lemon/lime/grapefruit and eat it in something sweet, ideally somewhere Japanese. I tried just about everything I could that was based on yuzu for the purposes of this column. If you can track it down, Sansu’s salty yuzu and lychee drink manages not to be unpleasant, while a small bottle of Waitrose’s yuzu juice enlivens a green salad dressing. Despite some intense googling, the yuzu rind, an Asian staple, eluded me. It’s a shame: one of its main uses is added to a bath as a relaxant, presumably for when you’ve gone too far with the yuzu.

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