“Yuzu” is a brightly colored citrus fruit known for its refreshing scent and strong acidity. It is grown widely throughout Japan, but is especially famous in the eastern parts of Kochi Prefecture, such as the villages of Umaji and Kitagawa. Yuzu is used lavishly in the local cuisine of this region. “Inakazushi” (sushi from the countryside) is a good example, with yuzu vinegar mixed into the rice. This colorful sushi, which is eaten regularly, is made with mountain vegetables such as bamboo sprouts, “myoga” (Japanese ginger), and konnyaku. Yuzu is used in many types of cooking throughout Kochi Prefecture. Usually the juice is used as a seasoning and the skin as a garnish. There is also a condiment called yuzu ponzu, made with yuzu juice. Adding soy sauce and vinegar to yuzu juice makes a refreshing sauce used in a variety of dishes including as a dipping sauce or for pouring over grilled fish, steamed foods, and boiled tofu. In some parts of Kochi it is even used as a sauce for “katsuo no tataki” (seared bonito). You can also enjoy drinking yuzu juice in yuzu drinks and yuzu wine. Soft drinks made with yuzu are known for a refreshing sourness and slight bitterness popular with people of all ages. Yuzu wine allows you enjoy the refreshing scent and mellow taste of the fruit. This iconic Kochi drink can be found in many bars and drinking establishments.
Yuzu skin can be sliced raw and used as a garnish to accent various types of cooking. Yuzu pepper is a spicy seasoning with a hint of elegant yuzu aroma made by fermenting a mixture of chili peppers, yuzu peel, and salt. This, too, is used in a wide range of foods, such as hot-pots, sashimi, and tempura.
Yuzu is an important factor in many more dishes such as those above, but it takes a long time to grow: more than 10 years from seed until it starts bearing fruit. It is grown with love over many years by its farmers.