February 29, 2012

uses of yuzu: marmalade and more, back to winter 2011

Another year came and another winter is about to go. So is the season of yuzu, the wonderful citrus fruit we are so fortunate to have in abundance in Japan. I've had my fair share of yuzu over the winter, but before I try to write about it here, I wanted to share something else with you.

Last winter, I cooked and baked my way through using yuzu just as much as I did this year, starting with multiple batches of yuzu marmalade. And about a year ago from now I was working on a follow-up entry here, when it happened - and everything changed. I never got around to finishing the post, which had been so close to it, and the yuzu season ended before we knew it.

So today I set myself to do the unfinished job and post the entry, a year overdue. All the pictures shown, foods prepared, and words written you'll see below were done last winter, save for a few words here and there that I've just added. I'm hoping to do another post for things I've done with yuzu this winter, but here's a flashback to (a happy part of) last winter... cx

xxx xxx xxx

So, yuzu. I've made jars after jars of marmalade with this beloved citrus fruit of Japan for the past month or so. In fact, I had more marmalade than I knew what to do with - so I decided to turn them into cakes. And ice-creams. And puddings. And so it goes...

The best way to eat marmalade probably is to smear it on a piece of toast for breakfast, with a steaming cup of tea. And this bread and butter pudding with yuzu marmalade was pretty good, too. A few pieces of toast with butter and marmalade were soaked in egg-milk batter, dotted with a little more marmalade and baked in the oven. One secret ingredient here is a dash of whisky; yes, whisky for breakfast. But rest assured, there isn't that much in it anyway - in fact, you might want to use it a little more generously, even. Recipe is here; I used ginger marmalade for a bit of kick.

Another breakfast favorite:
Crisps and crumbles are my favorite things to bake. Now I was going to make apple and marmalade tart that I'd seen in an old baking book a long time ago, but found myself not being able to bother it (yes, I'm a lazy baker...). So when I found this recipe for apple and marmalade crisp, I thought this would be a perfect substitute - a bit of crispness without a fuss of making shortcrust pastry! Of course, crisps aren't the same as tarts, but still good in their own ways. And perfectly doable in a busy morning; you can make the crisp topping on the day before, and even cook the sliced apples first (in a small pan or in a microwave), which will shorten the baking time.

Still more for breakfast...
Scones! And not just your everyday scones, but chocolate-yuzu walnut scones, in which chopped chocolate and marmalade (I used yuzu-kumquat here) are rolled in a scone dough that contains rye flour. You know, citrus fruits work wonderful with chocolate, and yuzu isn't an exception. But where's the walnut? The nuts are toasted and ground, then mixed into both the dough and the filling, thereby giving the scone a bold nut flavor in a subtle way. The recipe was created by pastry chef Kim Boyce, the author of Good to the Grains, which is a very useful resource of whole-grain baking. I've tried more than a handful recipes from the book and enjoyed them immensely, and these scones didn't disappoint.

More yuzu-chocolate combo:
Yuzu-chocolate cake, or a variation of what Nigella Lawson calls Pantry-Shelf Chocolate-Orange Cake in her classic How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking (Hyperion, 2001 (US edition)). It's so named because you should be able to make this cake using ingredients that are most likely be found in your pantry shelf. And sure enough, this is one of the easiest cake you can make, and it makes rich, dense and slightly pudding-y texture thanks to the generous dose of marmalade in it.

Served alongside was another yuzu marmalade creation, by the way:
Yes, the ice-cream, too, was made using marmalade, hence yuzu marmalade ice-cream. It was also dead-easy to make - and turned out to be one of the best things that I've made with yuzu marmalade. I had an idea of making ice-cream by simply mixing marmalade and cream together, and found a recipe that does exactly that. I don't have an ice-cream machine, so I went for my tried-and-tested method of mixing the cream with other ingredients (marmalade here) in a blender, freezing it, then processing the mixture again in the blender until smooth, and re-freezing it. It works well, and the ice-cream was really good.

And oh, I also made the sorbet, too:
By processing marmalade not with cream but with sparkling wine (boiled once, then cooled), I made yuzu marmalade sorbet - a rather tipsy one that tasted really sharp. It may be the sort you'd have in a small glass between dishes in a multiple-course meal, but great paired with the ice-cream, too.

Another cool dessert...
Topped with yuzu marmalade (with champagne) and shaved white chocolate is rice pudding, or white chocolate and cardamom rice pudding with yuzu marmalade sauce, adapted from this recipe. Compared to the cream-rich, fluffy version I made with strawberries a while ago, this is more of a standard rice pudding, except for the addition of white chocolate. Cardamom goes really well with both white chocolate and yuzu, and the slight bitterness of yuzu made a nice contrast with the sweet white chocolate. Overall, the whole thing made a very pleasant dessert - really sweet, but really good.

Now, a couple of cakes that are good for teatime:
One is marmalade and cornmeal cake, which was made by accident - well, sort of. I was going to make this cake and realized I didn't have semolina around. On a whim, I decided to substitute cornmeal, which I did have, for semolina - now I was fully aware that semolina and cornmeal are two different flours, but just thought I'd give it a go - to a mixed result. The combination of marmalade and cornmeal wasn't bad, but the thing was, cornmeal was a little overpowering, which was no surprise when you see the recipe closely enough to see how much semolina (cornmeal in my case) it contains. Should I make this again with cornmeal, I will definitely cut it down and replace a part of it with plain flour or maybe ground almonds.

The other cake was the last thing I made with marmalade, and incidentally, one of the easiest to make and tastiest here:
This unassuming fruit cake is called marmalade tea loaf, which is loaded with dried fruits soaked in black tea (I used Earl Grey) and well, some marmalade. The recipe is here, and it is far easier to make than most fruit cakes, with no beating butter involved; in fact, no butter involved at all, nor any oil/fat added for that matter. The result is a very dense and rich cake that is not heavy, and smells wonderful - even better if you include candied yuzu in the dried fruit mix if you can. I liked to smear a thin slice of it with a dab of butter, and even a bit of marmalade, but the cake tasted good just as it is.

Hm, lots of stuff made with yuzu marmalade, right?
Indeed, by the time I'd made all these cakes and puddings, my stock of various jars of marmalade had largely disappeared. So I am making another batch or so while yuzu is still around.

And although I was busy making marmalade with yuzu and making other things with marmalade, I was determined to making things with fresh yuzu, too...
One of the first things I made with fresh yuzu earlier in the winter was yuzu honey, which is simply chopped whole yuzu (save for seeds) in honey. I had most part of the yuzu-honey syrup topped with some bubbles, and decided to use the fruits in baking.

Enter a(nother) breakfast favorite like this:
Scones! Again, I know, but like crumbles/crisps, scones are something I seem to always turn to whenever I want to bake something but don't know what to bake. I used this trusted recipe for lemon and ginger scones and made yuzu and ginger scones. I've done the yuzu-ginger pairing so many times in many different things, and they always make a top flavor combo.

I still had some yuzu left from the yuzu honey, so I made another thing...
Ice-cream! Ah well, again. But I didn't hear anyone complaining about it in my household, so I don't know why I should. As a matter of fact, I made this yuzu-honey ice cream before I made the yuzu marmalade ice-cream I've talked about above, using pretty much the same method except I added a little more hoeny to the cream mixture. I turned out a bit more bitter than the marmalade version (which was not surprising as yuzu in here hadn't been cooked with sugar), but tasted good all the same.

And what looks like chocolate ice-cream in the picture was actually chocolate sorbet... with yuzu (surprise!). I used David Lebovitz's recipe for chocolate-tangerine sorbet from his book Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes (Ten Speed Press, 2010), but as you will probably know if you have ever tasted fresh yuzu, it's not as sweet as, and far more bitter and tart than, tangerines - so I went easy on juice of yuzu, and increased the amount of sugar a little. Still, my chocolate-yuzu sorbet proved to be extra bitter and extra tart - in an excellent way. It went really well with the milder-tasting ice-cream, too.

While I made the sorbet in only a small amount, I still ended up juicing lots of yuzu, and was left with a small mountain of empty yuzu shells. I had zested my yuzu before cutting them into half and juicing them and put the zest in the freezer for another use, but I still felt it would be a shame to chuck all the shells (yuzu isn't exactly cheap, even in Japan).
So I used a good part of them to make thrifty marmalade in my my little yuzu marmalade making project, used another bit to flavor mulled cider, and used yet another few shells to make yuzu panna cotta (served here with a bit of marmalade - handmade, of yuzu, of course).

I had a long time ago seen a recipe for grapefruit panna cotta, which called for only the white pith of grapefruits to flavor the milk-cream mixture. I don't remember the exact recipe now, but I thought I'd just wing it; I combined some milk and cream (about 1:2) and added some yuzu pith, cleaned of any pulp, heat the mixture to a near boil, then let it cool to infuse the liquid with yuzu flavor. After a few hours, I removed the pith, sweetened the mixture with a bit of honey, added unflavored (prepared) gelatin, and strained before pouring into some cups and molds.

The panna cotta was light and sweet, and although it did not smell much of yuzu, it did have a hint of distinctive bitterness characteristic to this wonderful fruit.
It tasted nice with marmalade, but I liked it with streaks of caramel, as well - yuzu-flavored caramel, incidentally; I cooked up some caramel in a small pan and added a bit of juice and thin strips of zest of yuzu. Both panna cotta and caramel were on a bitter side, making this truly a grown-up dessert.

This method of (subtly) flavoring milk/cream with pith is one fun way, but of course you can go an easier way by adding grated zest of yuzu if you have an abundant supply of it...

Well, like I did with this white chocolate and yuzu pudding. These little pots of super rich, sweet, and (white) chocolate-y cream had just a bit of grated zest of yuzu, but were burst with flavor. I used this recipe, and it was (again) really easy to make, and would make a lovely dessert. Fresh berries definitely had their role to play here to balance out all the creaminess and richness.

...Hm, I still haven't used up my stock of yuzu? A bit more baking then:
I've done crumbles, I've done scones, so it's now yuzu muffins! Here I used this recipe for orange bread and substituted yuzu for orange - and baked it in muffin cups. I'm normally not an icing kind of girl, but these tasted really good with the icing, which gave the muffin a good, strong yuzu boost. Excellent for breakfast, too!

I made something else also from the ever-resourceful Simply Recipes:
Blondies! I hadn't made blondies in ages - they aren't exactly what I bake very often, but this recipe for lemon mascarpone blondies looked and sounded so good I just had to try. And my yuzu mascarpone blondies turned out really soft, and really sweet, with a hint of bitterness of yuzu in every bite.

And here is one more yuzu something with an American flair:
Yuzu squares - a Japanese cousin of lemon squares, so to speak. I love lemon squares, and I love yuzu - so why not put the two together? Well, to be precise, these were yuzu-lemon squares as I used juice of yuzu and lemon half and half; while yuzu has a wonderful, one-of-a-kind flavor, it is not as pungent as lemon is, which I think is essential for good lemon squares. Besides, yuzu never yields as much juice as lemon does, so it can take a whole lot of yuzu to make a decent pan of squares. In any case, they came out pretty good, except I overbaked them a bit (again). I have a good lemon square recipe I've been using for longer than I care to remember (from an old baking book, written in Japanese) but I assume you can use your favorite lemon square recipe here.

Now for something slightly more Japanese-y (but not wagashi, mind you!)
Cookies, anyone? Flecked with zest of fresh yuzu and toasted sesame seeds, these yuzu-sesame shortbread were buttery, flaky and really moreish - they disappeared real quick! For the shortbread dough I used this recipe, but again, if you have a good shortbread recipe you always turn to, you can start from there.

And finally, one of the best things, with or without yuzu, that I've made in a while:
A simple loaf of cake. Well, maybe not so simple. This is yuzu and chestnut pound cake with plum wine that I made using this recipe (in Japanese). It is a recipe for yuzu pound cake, which tells you to add grated zest of yuzu in the batter while using the fruit in the syrup that is prepared with shochu, a popular type of Japanese distilled spirits.

The combination of yuzu and chestnuts is something I've always loved, so I decided to throw a good handful of sweetened chestnuts into the cake batter. And because I didn't have a regular, plain shochu around, I used something I did at hand: umeshu, or Japanese plum wine, homemade courtesy of my mother.
The cake itself is fairly simple, but the addition of yuzu and chestnuts, as well as the very boozy syrup to finish the baked cake, seemed to work wonders and the finished cake was delectable - especially a day or so after I'd baked it, as the flavors were given time to develop and the boozy edge to get rounded a bit.

And as we entered into March, we are seeing less and less yuzu at the stores with the prices steadily going up, a sign of the approaching end of yuzu season.
To wrap it all up, I had some pancakes with yuzu. It was Pancake Day and I wanted to make some (for the first time in a year, since Pancake Day last year), and because I had been making everything with yuzu, so one more thing wouldn't hurt, I decided. To make these yuzu pancakes I followed this recipe, which worked pretty well for someone like me who never gets the hang of pancake making, and prepared yuzu butter instead of lemon batter to serve. An additional dash of juice of yuzu just before eating worked nicely to zing up the warm, sweet pancakes - simple pleasures.

So all in all, yuzu dominated my winter this year, from the various jars of marmalade to cakes and desserts of all sorts.
Like I said, the large stock of my yuzu marmalade that I had in mid February has somehow shrunk considerably by now, but we've still got a few to enjoy for the coming weeks, to savor the last of this seductive flavor of winter. After that, we shall wait anxiously for the first crop of the fruits to arrive in early winter - but there'll be some time before then. Hope you've enjoyed your favorite tastes of winter before welcoming the warmer weather! -cx


Unknown said...

che meraviglie hai realizzato! complimenti, un bacio :)

Tilia said...

I remain every time enchanted looking at your posts!
They are so inspiring, so perfect, in a simple, delicious way!

cocopuff1212 said...

Thank you for this post. I was just thinking about how it has been alomost a year since then, and also how strange this past year has been for me personally (2 trips to Japan in the same year?!)

I love the teacup in the first photo. I'm goin to brew some tea right now.

Unknown said...

I live in Malaysia, my addiction for Yuzu came after my trips to Japan. I got a friend to buy me some Yuzus all the back in Osaka while she was travelling. Decided to make a batch of yuzu marmalade as I can't keep them fresh. Did the same, but I can't say that I have done so much modifications like you. Now you definitely gave me more ideas and inspiration what I can do with them. :)

Very Highbrow said...

I'm so so so happy I found your blog. Keep it up! I love crumbles and yuzu... i'll definitely try some of these recipes soon. Also, great pictures!

gosialein said...

I always look forward to your next post :)

Mariko said...

Love, love, love yuzu! We can't get it fresh here in Seattle, but I have juice and freeze dried peel (and more yuzu related things keep showing up in the market, like yuzu ponzu and yuzu kosho. Now I have some ideas about how to use the yuzu marmalade I lugged back in my suitcase from Osaka. I've been rather precious about it, but I think it's time to use it up :).

Michelle said...

omg that's a helluva many yuzu goodies - almost twentish?? ive never had fresh yuzu before as i dont see them ard where i stay. but ive tasted yuzu products and absulutely love them. if i ever get a chance to get my hands on some fresh yuzu, i'll certainly know where to look for inspirations! :)

Sweet Lily said...

Awesome! Wonderful!
Thanks, Chika!

Miki said...


Hi !
what a wonderful blog !
all entry are inspired me so much ;)

Lynnea said...

gorgeous!! the yuzu in your photos look so much better than the very expensive ones I buy at the Japanese market in San Diego. Thank you for sharing!

Jen Laceda | Milk Guides said...

i love yuzu!!! last month, I also featured a yuzu recipe on my blog, Tartine and Apron Strings. I made Yuzu Poppy Seed Quinoa Pancakes...they are gluten-free also!

love your blog! found it through La Tartine Gourmand...

Laura said...

oh how delicious! My mother is an avid marmalade maker and I can alot of those things going down well in our house. my speciality? Filthy Brownies.... think cookie dough, Rolos, brownies... layered, baked and served warm

The recipe is... here!

Laura x

Francesca said...

Oh my word! You have really gone through the full spectrum of ways to use Yuzu! Wonderful!

Can you find it in England and if not is it more similar in taste to a grapefruit or a mandarin?


Nga said...

This entry is so good. I really like your food photography. What kind of lens do you use?
I take my food photos with mostly natural light and I dont seem to be able to get such bright yet warm tone as your photos.

chika said...

hello all - very belated thank yous to all your comments!

Mariko - i know the feeling! re: feeling too precious about food from abroad to actually use it ;)

Nga - I use a 50mm/1.4F canon. small, and great with limited light.

chris said...

SO excited to find all of these recipes for yuzu. Can't wait to try them. We grow yuzu in Central California. We crush them with our olives to make yuzu flavored olive oil. see our oil at