Saturday, March 29, 2008

Citron/Yuzu Spread

Citron/Yuzu Spread
Whenever I go to Trader Joe's, I rarely walk out of there without buying at least half a dozen things that weren't on my shopping list. This citron spread was one of those products that caught my eye.

I've been using citron and yuzu to refer to the same fruit but after doing some research, I was surprised to discover that yuzu and citron are actually two different types of citrus. Yuzu (Citrus ichangensis x Citrus reticulata var. austera) is a cold hardy Asian citrus fruit that originated in China and then introduced to Japan and Korea. Citron (Citrus medica) on the other hand, is a different species that most likely also originated in Asia, but was subsequently spread throughout the Mediterranean. I was searching for the difference in flavor between the two fruits but it was difficult to find a comparison because many people, like myself, and resources use the names interchangeably. Even my jar says "Citron (Yuzu) spread", so now I'm not sure whether it's made with citron or yuzu. My guess is that the flavors are comparable. Yuzu has been a part of Japanese and Korean cuisine for quite some time but recently it has come to the attention of the Western food world and is now all the rage.

Yuzu is rarely eaten as a fruit but both the juice and zest are prized in cooking. The fruit bears very little juice, so it's very precious. The tart lemon-like juice with hints of lime, grapefruit, and pine forms the base of the Japanese dipping sauce, ponzu. The powerfully aromatic zest is used as a garnish on soup. It is also working its way into many sweet applications like cakes and sorbets. A spoonful of yuzu marmalade, similar to the spread I bought, is swirled into hot water to make a Korean drink called yuja cha, used as a remedy for the common cold.

Fresh yuzu are about the size of a small orange and are in season from November to May and can be found at at Japanese or Asian markets but they will be rather pricey ($3 - $4 each). The bottled juice can also be found at Asian markets.

So far I've used it as a glaze on scallops and as a filling in Asian rugelach. As Wandering Chopsticks suggested, it would be great on fish as well. And to satisfy your sweet tooth, Tartelette has wonderful yuzu recipes like this cheesecake or berry salad.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Thanks, Amy. I've put this on my Trader Joe's shopping list!

RecipeGirl said...

Going there today... will look for this treasure! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

We have no TJ's up here in the mountains on the east coast. I live for my several trips a year to the west coast - next one in two weeks. Thanks for adding another item to look for (and cook with) while I'm on vacation (in my daughter's newly remodeled kitchen).

Susan @ SGCC said...

Thanks for clearing that up. Now, I know what to look for! :)

Helene said...

I love that spread! I made cheesecakes last summer with it as a glaze and they were awesome. Problem is we don't have a Trader Joe's here and I have to wait to go visit Lisa's to get my fill!

tigerfish said...

I got my yuzu spread from TJ like last year. The packaging/bottle has changed! Hee hee....I ALWAYS end up with something in TJs even if it's just a $1.99 TJ organic truffle chocolate.

Anonymous said...

We have quite a few trader joes in the Boston area. I'm going to have to look for this next time :-)

Sophie said...

As a native Californian now living in Austin, TX (at least until this August, then I'm off to Boston!) I deeply miss Trader Joe's! I can't complain that I live in the city where the main Whole Foods headquarters is located, but I do miss the wonderful Trader Joe's prices and tasty treats like these :).


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