Grilled prawns with yuzu dressing. Photo: Photo: Edwina PicklesWhat is it?
What the lime is to Thai cuisine, the yuzu is to Japanese cooking. A small, yellow-skinned citrus, it’s loved for its tart, smack-in-the-mouth tang. Fresh fruit is difficult to source, but yuzu juice is increasingly available from Asian food stores and specialists. ”It’s as much a fragrance as a taste,” importer Leigh Hudson of Chef’s Armoury says. ”Use it anywhere you would use lemon juice. It’s mind-blowingly delicious.”
Where is it?
At Matteo’s in Fitzroy North, chef Brendan McQueen serves poached meringue with a heart of yuzu ice-cream, with nashi pear and salted pistachio crumbs. “We use it in both sweet and savoury dishes,” he says. “We do a yuzu butter sauce that’s great for fish and for heirloom carrots. It’s pretty expensive, but it goes a long way.”
Head chef Kengo Hiromatsu of Akachochin on South Wharf says using Japanese ingredients such as yuzu juice makes him happy. “It has 100,000 uses in the kitchen,” he says. “We use it for its flavour and its sharpness, for marinades and for curing.”
One of the most popular dishes on the menu is a salad of ocean trout marinated in yuzu juice, soy, garlic and grape seed oil, then drizzled with truffle oil and served over mixed leaves. “We marinate the fish for just two minutes to keep it tasting very fresh,” Hiromatsu says.
At the newish Nama Nama in Spring Street, yuzu winds up in everything from a little breakfast teacake to a “lime spider” of yuzu, green melon liqueur, ice-cream and soda. “It has a wonderfully mandarin-lemony flavour with a little sea-salty kick,” co-owner Simon Denton says. “If you close your eyes, you feel as if you’re in Japan.”
At the tiny Cafe Cre Asion in Surry Hills, Yu Sasaki makes swoon-worthy macarons in 15 different flavours daily, and yuzu is always one of them. ”It cuts through the sweetness of the meringue beautifully,” he explains.
Sepia chef Martin Benn charcoal-smokes freshwater eel and serves it with a tangy fresh yuzu curd, pistachios, tapioca, liquorice, watercress and nasturtiums. ”Yuzu is one of my favourite things ever,” he says. ”The taste is somewhere between a lemon and a mandarin, with lightly floral notes. People just go ‘wow’ ”.
In Bronte, Mark LaBrooy and Darren Robertson of Three Blue Ducks work yuzu into both sweet and savoury dishes, from scampi with avocado mousse and yuzu curd to a dessert of yuzu curd with burnt meringue.
At the forthcoming Taste of Sydney food festival in Centennial Park (March 14-17), they’ll be doing toasted marshmallow with yuzu curd and chocolate ganache. ”It’s quite potent,” LaBrooy says. ”But it makes those dishes in which you would normally use lemon or lime juice much more interesting.”
Why do I care?
Because there’s nothing else quite like it: tart, bright and refreshing.
Can I do it at home?
What’s Japanese for yes? Mix yuzu and soy for a quick Japanese ”ponzu” dip for fish and seafood, add to vinaigrettes, mayonnaise and the odd vodka cocktail.
Matteo’s, 533 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, 9481 1177.
Nama Nama, 31 Spring Street, city, 9639 9500.
Akachochin, Shed 7, 33 Dukes Walk, South Melbourne, 9245 9900.
Chef’s Armoury, 422Church Street, Richmond, 94291139, chefsarmoury杭州夜网m
Sepia, 201 Sussex Street, city 9283 1990.
Cafe Cre Asion, 21 Alberta Street, city, 0404 941 528.
Three Blue Ducks, 143 Macpherson Street, Bronte, 9389 0010.
Chef’s Armoury, 747 Botany Road, Rosebery, 9699 2353, chefsarmoury杭州夜网m
Grilled prawns with yuzu dressing
6 fresh green prawns in shell
Handful of rocket or cress leaves
1 tsp sesame seeds
Togarashi (Japanese sprinkles)
1 tbsp yuzu juice
1 tbsp Japanese mirin
4 tbsp grape seed or light olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp finely grated garlic
1 tbsp whole egg mayonnaise
1. Heat an overhead grill.
2. Cut the prawns in half lengthwise with a cleaver and devein.
3. Whisk the dressing ingredients together until smooth.
4. Brush the prawns with the dressing and grill them cut-side up for 3 minutes or until just cooked (I like charring the shells a little, too).
5. Arrange on plates with rocket or cress, spoon over the remaining dressing and scatter with sesame seeds and togarashi.
Serves 4 as a starter
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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.