Yuzu koshō is an all-purpose Japanese hot sauce that can enliven anything with its fiery and citrusy depth of flavor. Made from chili peppers, yuzu citrus peel, and salt, this fermented paste is poised to become your next favorite condiment in everyday cooking.
If you are a hot sauce fiend and have a tendency to put it in everything you eat, then it’s time for you to meet yuzu koshō (柚子胡椒). This Japanese paste, made from chili peppers, yuzu peel (a Japanese citrus fruit), and salt, is going to transform virtually any food you eat.
What sets yuzu kosho apart from typical hot sauces is its complex profile that transcends mere spiciness. It introduces a unique citrusy aroma, creating a perfect harmony of heat and tang. It works brilliantly on tempura, sashimi, and miso soup, but also unexpected pairings, including dressings and even desserts!
Let’s dive straight into this amazing condiment and learn how you can use it in your cooking!
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What Is Yuzu Kosho?
A fiery, spicy, and salty paste, yuzu kosho is a versatile finishing condiment originating from Kyushu in southern Japan. Despite consisting of just three ingredients, it is remarkably potent and concentrated. In Japanese kitchens, it serves as a condiment for hot pot dishes, miso soup, sashimi, tempura, sauces/seasonings, and salad dressings.
You can even make your own yuzu kosho at home if you have access to yuzu citrus. Simply combine chili peppers, fresh yuzu zest, and sea salt. Either pound with a mortar and pestle or whiz in a food processor, then add the yuzu juice. Transfer the mixture to a container and let it rest and ferment in the fridge for a week or longer.
Varieties of Yuzu Kosho
You can find two different varieties in the market:
- Red yuzu kosho consists of ripe yellow yuzu and red chili peppers. It’s less spicy compared to green, with a richer taste.
- Green yuzu kosho is less common and it consists of green yuzu and green chili peppers. It’s spicier with a fresh and sharper flavor.
What Does Yuzu Kosho Taste Like?
It carries a bold, spicy kick from chili peppers, yet simultaneously boasts an aromatic, tangy, and mildly tart citrusy flavor. The addition of sea salt complements both elements, bringing a deep umami flavor through the fermentation process. I believe it truly brings everything to life.
How Do You Use and Cook with Yuzu Kosho?
Thanks to its rounded flavor, yuzu kosho has also found its place beyond traditional Japanese cuisine. Many non-Japanese chefs outside of Japan use it as a marinade for proteins such as prawns, chicken, fish, and vegetables before cooking. You could also eat it with steak or add a tiny drop in stir-fries. Or swirl a tiny bit of yuzu kosho to mix with your sauces and dressings. The spiciness can add depth and flavor to your dish without overpowering it. Some even use it in baking!
Like wasabi, it’s potent, and a little goes a long way. Give it a try with a small dab before use.
Where To Buy
Most Japanese grocery stores like Mitsuwa and Nijiya and Asian supermarkets carry yuzu kosho in the condiments section (at Nijiya, it’s on the Japanese spice/salt shelf). You can also find it on Amazon and online retail sites.
It is sold in jars, tubes, or pouches.
How To Choose The Best
When in doubt, check the ingredient list. It should only contain three ingredients: chili peppers, yuzu, and salt.
How To Store
Before opening the package, it can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
After opening, keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months and in the freezer for up to 1.5 years. As it’s high in salt, it won’t spoil quickly.
You could make it with Meyer lemon, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, lime zest, salt, and finely chopped fresh green chiles like jalapeños. Use a food processor or blender to mix well.
Recipes Using Yuzu Kosho
- Add yuzu kosho to a ponzu dipping sauce for hot pot dishes – Chicken Hot Pot.
- Add to a hearty bowl of miso soup – Miso Soup with Pork Belly and Vegetables.
- Pair it with soft and creamy cheese and briny salmon roe for an elevated crostini appetizer – Burrata Crostini with Ikura and Yuzu Kosho.
- Mix a dab of yuzu kosho with homemade yakitori sauce for a bold and brighter flavor – Yakitori (Grilled Chicken Skewers).
- The refreshing spicy taste of yuzu kosho cuts through the richness and fat of meat, as it does in this knockout, umami-packed Grilled Pork Chops recipe.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on January 30, 2018. It was republished with more information on February 17, 2024.