April 4, 2005
yuzu goes on winter days
It's already April and the yuzu season is basically over, so I should better hurry before it's too out of place; celebrating this fabulous fruit, King of Japanese winter citrus.
Often seen in Japanese cuisine and sweets - increasingly in Western-style ones as seen in Pierre Herme's entremet and macarons, and much humbly, in my recent yuzu tartelettes, yuzu is a citrus that is used almost like lemon, i.e. by grating zest and squeezing juice. It has a distinctive bitterness which is a bit resembling that of grapefruits, but they don't seem alike at all - yuzu is usually larger than lemon (but much smaller than grapefruits) and has lumpy skin (for more details, refer to this).
Another noticeable difference from lemon can be found inside:
Yuzu is really seedy, and has very little juice to squeeze out. In fact, what people use the most out of this fruit is the zest rather than the juice, although a little amount of yuzu juice goes a long way in splashing over such things as tofu, vegetable, fish, you name it.
It is increasingly used in cakes and desserts in Japan, both commercially and domestically. With yuzu I have made and loved things like pound cake, sponge cake, cookies, mousse, sorbet, etc. etc. other than the above-mentioned tartelettes, and just recently I made another thing; yuzu financiers, using grated zest and juice of yuzu as well as home-made yuzu marmalade that my mom had made in the height of yuzu season.
Financiers are traditional French tea cakes made using egg whites, ground almonds, and browned butter. The recipe (in Japanese) I used this time is, although it calls it "financier", not exactly financier because it uses olive oil rather than butter. Well I still used my brand-new FLEXIPAN mini-financier pan anyways!
Making the batter was dead easy as I had readily-ground almonds, and what was more, I didn't have to brown the butter. It was ready in a flash and went to the oven right away.
Now I have heard that Flexipan molds (and other silicone pans) wouldn't brown the baked stuff as much as conventional pans do, which seemed to have proved true in my kitchen. Also, the tiny oven we use over here - as small as a microwave oven, or in fact, a lot of them are an oven-cum-microwave - isn't as powerful as larger ones, which together makes baking time longer and color of the baked stuff paler. That was probably how the financiers came out really pale, almost looking as if underbaked, even though they weren't.
At any rate, covered in plastic wrap and let sit overnight, the financiers - or yuzu-olive cakes, if that sounds more appropriate - were really moist and light, and had subtle but noticeable flavors of both yuzu and olive oil. To tell you the truth, I like yuzu pound cake that I have made over and over (which I haven't blogged yet, unfortunately) better than this, but the rather unusual pairing of yuzu and olive oil was a nice change for sure.
Now the season is over and yuzu wouldn't be sold in bulk in grocery stores any more. I believe that yuzu is really hard to find outside of Japan and maybe Korea, but the same is true in Japan other than in the winter. For now we have some marmalade in the fridge and grated zest in the freezer, and bottles of yuzu juice in pantry shelf, to keep ourselves quiet for a while - and the rest of the time till later this year, we'll all look forward to seeing the first crop coming in the beginning of the winter.
posted by chika at: 4/04/2005 10:58:00 AM