Last Updated on November 4, 2021
One of my favorite ingredients in my kitchen, Yuzu Kosho, is a Japanese condiment that has an intense aroma, pleasant spiciness and saltiness! If you haven’t tried one yet or want to incorporate a new Japanese ingredient to your cooking, it’s a must item for you to discover. It’s naturally vegan, too! So, what’s Yuzu Kosho?
Yuzu kosho is one of the authentic Japanese condiments. Its origin is from Kyusyu island (The southwestern most five main islands of Japan) and now the popularity has picked up in the entire country where you can find it pretty much anywhere.
A direct translation of the words yuzu kosho can be “yuzu pepper.” So, what’s “yuzu” and “kosho”?
Yuzu [柚子] is one of the Japanese citruses that has an intense sourness. The size of yuzu is slightly larger than a mandarin orange but smaller than a grapefruit. In Japan, not only do we use it for culinary purposes, but also used for taking a bath with yuzu, called “yuzu-yu” [柚子湯] on the Winter solstice to keep the cold away! It’s a ritual and tradition that the Japanese has been doing for generations.
Kosho [胡椒] is typically referred as pepper such as black pepper or white pepper. However in Kyusyu island, the word “kosho” refers as hot chili pepper.
So, yuzu kosho is basically a blend of yuzu and hot chili pepper.
What’s in Yuzu kosho
This spicy & aromatic yuzu pepper paste, yuzu kosho, is made of 3 simple ingredients.
- Green hot chili peppers
- Green yuzu peel
- Sea salt
While most yuzu kosho is made with green chili peppers, some are made with red ones.
How It’s Made
- Zest the peel of green yuzu using a grater.
- Deseed green hot chili peppers and chop them finely.
- Transfer the chopped green hot chili peppers to suribachi (Japanese mortar & pestle.) Coarsely grind them.
- Add the grated green yuzu peel & sea salt. Continue to grind until well combined. The juice of yuzu may be added.
- For best taste, yuzu kosho may rest for about a week in the fridge.
I’ve never made my own since I don’t know where to find green yuzu or even regular yuzu in where I live. I’m sure homemade one would taste delicious!
Despite of the simplicity of the ingredients, the aroma & flavor is very intense & complex.
The aroma of green hot chili peppers & yuzu peel are very powerful and distinctive. However, it’s not overly spicy where it burns your whole mouth. The saltiness is pretty dominant but not too overpowering.
Yuzu kosho typically comes in a teeny-tiny jar but a little bit goes a long way using in recipes. Although the overall flavor profile is the same, each yuzu kosho product tastes slightly different from another.
How to Use
I consider yuzu kosho as a multipurpose seasoning or condiment!
In Japan, yuzu kosho is typically served as a condiment. To give you some examples;
- Tofu or other proteins
- Hot pot
However, it’s also delicious to eat yuzu kosho;
- To season pasta (Yuzu Kosho Pasta)
- On top of rice
- As a salad dressing
- To season Japanese noodles such as udon, somen, soba
Where to Find
In U.S., you can find yuzu kosho conveniently on many online Japanese specialty food stores or amazon.
My recommendations are;
- Yuzu Pepper Paste (Yuzu Kosho) from Umami Insider (made with all Japan origin ingredients)
- Yuzu Kosho from the rice factory New York
Otherwise, you can also find yuzu kosho in some Asian (mainly Japanese or Korean) grocery stores.
I would suggest you to buy a couple of different products to compare the taste. Believe it or not, each one is slightly different in the aroma, taste, and saltiness. Remember, yuzu kosho typically comes in a teeny-tiny jar but a little bit goes a long way using in dishes!