Essentials of the Japanese Kitchen

Flavourings: Yuzu Koshō


Many different flavourings are used in Japanese cuisine. In this episode of ‘Essentials of the Japanese Kitchen’, Michelin-listed chef Shimizu Akira of AKIRA restaurant introduces one of his favourites: yuzu koshō

Yuzu Koshō 

Yuzu koshō is a paste-like condiment made with three ingredients: yuzu (a type of citrus fruit) chillies and salt.

Typically, the Japanese word koshō is used to refer to white or black pepper, however, in Kyūshū, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, where the condiment is a local specialty, the word koshō has historically been used to refer to chilli pepper.

While yuzu brings a fresh and tangy aroma, chilli pepper adds a sharp heat.

The paste can be used as a condiment for nabe (Japanese hot pot) or to add flavour to a variety of Japanese dishes and dressings.

Yuzu Koshō Recipe 

To make yuzu koshō, start by finely chopping 10 grams of green chillies, discarding the seeds.

Red chillies are sometimes used instead of green ones.

Peel two green or yellow yuzu (yellow yuzu are more common in the UK) and finely chop the peel. Save the yuzu flesh for later.

Use a pestle and mortar to grind the chopped green chillies with 10 grams of salt. Next, add the yuzu peel. To retain optimal flavour, don’t grind them completely.

To intensify the yuzu flavour, Akira recommends squeezing in a little bit of yuzu juice, but this is optional.

Transfer the mixture to a sterilized jar or airtight container and store it in the fridge.

Let the mixture mature before using it.

When using the paste, it is best to add a little at a time as it is both salty and spicy. Akira also recommends making yuzu koshō in small batches due to the limited shelf life of the raw ingredients.

Using Yuzu Koshō 

Akira recommends using yuzu koshō as an accompaniment to sashimi , yakiniku (grilled meat), tempura or tofu.

Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly common to find yuzu koshō outside of Kyūshū. Across Japan it is being used in dishes such as rāmen, gyōza and deep-fried foods, as well as non-Japanese dishes like spaghetti. This flavouring can also be found in Japanese snacks like crisps and even chocolate-based confectionery.