It tastes halfway between a lemon and a mandarin, and it looks like a small grapefruit, but there’s nothing quite like yuzu. Originally from China, it’s mainly used in Japanese and Korean cooking, from dressings to drinks and desserts.
There are only a few growers in Australia, where the fruit is a sought-after item by those in the know.
Gerard “Buck” Buchanan became the first commercial yuzu grower in Australia, after Japanese tourists gave him the idea. “I started over twenty years ago. I kept it quiet for a long time,” he tells SBS Food. “People were looking for it, but I kept planting more and more until I had enough in volume.”
Buck’s Farm is located in Chillingham, near the border of New South Wales and Queensland, so it supplies yuzu to restaurants in both states – like Wasabi and Ten. “It’s a niche market. You need to have contacts with people in Japanese restaurants. But there are a few younger chefs coming through now. They know it’s available here, so they want to try it,” he says.
Based near Mount Buffalo in Victoria, Jane and Brian Casey from Mountain Yuzu are also big players in the game. They sell the citrus to Sokyo in Sydney, as well as Minamishima in Melbourne. Like Buchanan, they noticed a growing interest for yuzu. One of their clients is Lune Croissanterie, of “best croissant in the world” fame. Here, the fruit is used in a marmalade and crumb for a yuzu cronut.
“There’s not a high demand yet, but it’s gaining interest. The people who know we have the fruit like it quite a bit. But a lot of people don’t realise we can get fresh yuzu in Australia,” says Jane Casey. “Conditions where we live are really good. Yuzu like a cold winter, they are quite hardy. Even if we have hot summers, we have nice cool nights. That difference between the daytime and night-time temperature makes for a better flavour.”
"A lot of people don’t realise we can get fresh yuzu in Australia. Conditions where we live are really good."
Depending where the grower is in Australia, the season ranges from a few weeks to a few months, somewhere between February to July.
When in season, the public can buy yuzu at Buck’s Farm (a kilo retails between $20 and $30), as well as Mountain Yuzu’s farm or directly from the grower's website.
What should you do with yuzu?
Yuzu is incredibly versatile. The fruit is usually too tart to eat by itself, so you’ll want to use the fragrant rind and the juice in your cooking.
If you dine at Sokyo, you’ll see that chef Chase Kojima features it in many ways on his menu. “It’s a celebration to get yuzu in Australia. I always wanted to use yuzu grown here, it’s a delicacy,” he tells SBS Food.
At the moment, he makes a chawanmushi (Japanese egg custard) dish with spanner crab, shaved truffles, Parmesan chips, and a burnt butter and yuzu sauce. “The yuzu cuts all that fattiness. It’s a super magic dish that I really like. You can’t do it without yuzu,” he says.
Don’t fret if you miss this special, order the snapper sushi with salsa, yuzu dressing and crisp seaweed. “It’s one of my favourite sushi I serve at Sokyo. I actually made a version of it with my father for the first time 19 years ago,” he says.
“Each year, I make yuzu kosho, which is cured yuzu and chilli. I also use it for ponzu, which is a Japanese sauce with sake, soy sauce and some kind of acid, so I either make it with vinegar and yuzu or yuzu and lemon,” he tells SBS Food.
“You can also add small bits of the rind to perfume dishes – a light clear soup with a winter vegetable like daikon radish, with a bit of chicken and yuzu. It’s really, really nice,” he says.
If you can’t find fresh yuzu, you can buy the juice in most Japanese grocers. But if you get your hands on it while it’s in season, Kojima suggests purchasing a bunch and freezing it: “I freeze the fruit whole and when I want to add yuzu to a dish, I get it out of the freezer and microplane it, shave that frozen yuzu skin on it, and put the yuzu back in the freezer.”
Inspired to cook with yuzu? Check out our favourite recipes featuring the punchy citrus.
Wagon Wheel alert! Two black sesame biscuits, sandwiching a vanilla marshmallow and a layer of yuzu jam, all covered in black sesame white chocolate... sign us up! #BringBackTheClassics
Widely popular in Asian cooking, yuzu is a Japanese citrus that imparts a floral aroma and bracingly tart zest into this abalone dish.