Sippin’ on Japan’s Juice

by Sarah on April 30, 2011 · 8 comments

[If you don’t get the post title reference…please do some research on Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, followed by the bluegrass band, the Gourds. Thank you.]


I tell y’all what. It’s always a good sign when a package is delivered to your doorstep with “Goodies” stamped on it.Thanks to Justin Marx at Marx Foods, I received a sampler of exotic Japanese juices to review. If I had the most thorough review, then I would win some Yuzu marmalade, green or red Yuzu Kosho, and some white soy sauce. Not having a clue what kosho was, nor really what yuzu was, I figured having some fun in the kitchen was worth it even for the chance at winning soy sauce. [I can’t help it if I’m easy to please.]Food packages are always exciting……even if this time I did feel a little bit like I was opening the three chests in Merchant of Venice, trying to win the hand of Portia. What was behind doors #1, 2, and 3?

Sudachi, kabosu, and yuzu juices!
[Cue audience applause]

I vaguely recognized yuzu, but as for the other two? Not the slightest idea of what they could be (although I did know where they came from…I’d been told that). I figured–WTH?–might as well just have some fun….and learn a little something along the way.
After sipping them all, I realized the subtle nuances that differentiated them were going to be very difficult to describe…and I began to think this little competition was going to be much harder than I had presumed. But I couldn’t give up, so instead I followed my unfailing mantra: when in doubt, cook it out! And thus, I made a three course meal, highlighting each of the three juices.

But first I needed a drink.

See, as soon as I cracked open the bottle of yuzu juice (which was much more difficult to open than you would think…but nevermind that), I sniffed it–the way you do with wine?–and the first thought that popped into my head was “Fresca.” Interesting, right? Must be some grapefruit in there. The second thought? “No…SUN DROP!” Yes, folks, perhaps my favorite soda of all time.I never could tell you what Sun Drop tasted like…but now I know: it’s yuzu. [Although I could bet you $100,000 that the good Midewestern people who created it don’t know that.] So I mixed some yuzu juice with club soda, poured it in a wine glass and garnished it with an orange (as seen above). Then, I got to work.

First Course: Sudachi

Sudachi is small and round, strikingly similar to a lime in appearance, and is regarded as an expensive delicacy in much of Japan…although there are a number of sudachi-flavored products (ice pops and the like) available at much cheaper prices than the fresh fruit.*
*Reminds me of the U.S., where it costs pennies to procure fruit-flavored sugar treats…but try to buy real raspberries and break the bank.

Although it looks like a lime, the juice has a much bolder flavor; where lime is sour, I’d say sudachi is spicy. It’s the tang to lime’s tart, if you will. [You know…like tart ‘n tangy…no? Maybe?]The spicy hints of cumin and peppery nature of the juice lends itself directly to Mexican food, and what’s more fun for a first course in Mexico than guacamole? But this was Japanese juice, so I thought I might need to twist it up a bit. So I thought, “Well, what’s everyone’s* favorite first course in Japan? Aha! Edamame!”
*And by everyone, I mean everyone but me. Miso soup calls my (stomach’s) name.And thus, I created Eda-mock-amole, using the sudachi juice as the lime juice substitute…and adding hints of Asian flair, like sesame oil. [I will post the full recipe soon.]
Second Course: Kabosu

Kabosu is a small, green fruit that ripens to yellow, and it is closely tied to yuzu in flavor; however, kabosu’s lemony, acidic ‘zip’ is much sharper and lacks the sweetness of yuzu juice.


It is often used as a substitute for vinegar in Japanese cooking. Perhaps this flavor confusion is why I’ve seen it referred to both as the Japanese lime AND the Japanese lemon.Lemon, lime, vinegar…what else can you make with citrus and acid? Well, I’m not saying it makes sense, but the first thing I thought of when I smelled the kabosu was ‘scallops.’ And thus, I headed straight for ceviche. Sadly, I didn’t have scallops, nor were they in my price range. I did, however, have some cooked and peeled salad-sized shrimp…and they found their way (along with the kabosu juice, into my Shrimp ‘Ceviche’ Salad. [I have to air quote the ceviche, since I didn’t actually let the shrimp ‘cook’ in the acidic marinade.]
1/2 lb. peeled, cooked salad shrimp + 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots + 1/2 cup finely diced cucumber + 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper + 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper + 3 finely sliced green onions (whites and light greens) + 1/2 cup kabosu juice + 1/4 cup loosely choppe fresh cilantro + salt + pepper
I realize many people consider ceviche a first course, but if you use the recipe above for just two people, there is plenty to sustain you. You can serve it over leafy greens, or with saltines like they do in Mexico, or perhaps piled high in a toasted bun. Trust me, with the heat that has been raging in Texas, this was a delicious meal. It tasted great right away, but letting it sit for at least 24 hours, stirring every few, makes the flavors really shine.

Third Course: Yuzu

Yuzu is citrus fruit of Chinese origin, popularized currently in Japanese cuisine. [I, myself, have feasted on yuzu reductions and gelees at Uchi, here in Austin.] From what I can gather, it turns from green to yellow as it ripens, and looks, therefore, like you would think it tastes: a cross between a lemon and a lime. However, it is said they can grow to be as large as a grapefruit, the other flavor that strikes you when you first taste the juice.

It is rare to find fresh yuzu fruit in the United States, but luckily for us Marx Foods stocks the juice (as well as some other fun products, like that Yuzu marmalade I mentioned earlier).Since yuzu was the sweetest of the three, I knew it lent itself immediately to dessert. I realized the theme of my dinner thus far had been Mexi-Asian (appropriate as I live in Texas), and I wanted to continue in that vein. How about a dessert salsa with an Asian twist?*

*If you consider crystallized ginger to be enough of an Asian twist.I mixed together 1/4 cup each of diced mango, diced strawberries, diced pineapple, and diced blackberries…along with 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger. I poured about 1/2 cup of yuzu juice over it (enough to cover) and stirred well. I let it chill in the fridge for 24 hours, so the fruit could macerate–break down—in the acid, and the ginger could seep into the juice.It would have been great with cinnamon-sugar pita or tortilla chips, but it was REALLY amazing when on top of yogurt and my Chai-Spiced Sponge Cake.Also delicious with angel-food cake and Cool-Whip. :)———————-
There you have it: three Japanese juices, three creative courses.

Thank you Marx Foods for letting me sample and review such interesting ingredients!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go spike my yuzu soda.


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