Friday, April 12th, 2013...12:19 pm
It’s no secret that Japan – more specifically, Tokyo – is one of my favourite places in the world to holiday in. Oodles of noodles, conveyor-belt sushi that puts many mid-range and even high-end restaurants in other parts of the world to shame, the lightest, crispest tempura batter, and pastries and confections that of course only the Japanese would have the attention to detail to bring to such unparalleled heights. (Okay, I’m probably speaking in hyperbole, but bear with me.)
However, something I always make sure I do when I’m in Japan (most recently, it was Okinawa to attend a wedding), is to check out a local supermarket for Yuzu. A cross between a sour mandarin and a lemon (or lemon-type citrus fruit), these fruit have proven quite hard to find in both Singapore and Hong Kong. On the occasions when they have popped up in gourmet grocery stores, they come attached with a hefty price tag that just makes it a little hard to stomach.
Because there’s only so long that fresh fruit will keep, especially after getting banged about in my suitcase on the flight home, I usually end up making some sort of preserve with my haul. Of these, yuzu marmalade has become my favourite – not only does it extend the shelf life of the citrus by a good number of months, it tastes great and is not difficult at all to make. In this recipe below, I’ve scaled down the sugar so what you get is a gently set, fragrant, bittersweet preserve, but feel free to increase the amount of sugar for a more firmly set marmalade, or to suit your taste. I also have only included a scaleable recipe, which assumes 100% as the weight of the whole fruit, and the rest of your percentages are from that weight, since it depends on how many yuzu I find, and how much space I’ve got in my luggage.
100% x fresh yuzu, preferably organic or unsprayed (though to be honest I can just about recognize the Kanji to figure out which citrus are yuzu, so who really knows what I’ve been using)
40-60% x granulated sugar
100% filtered or distilled water, plus more for blanching
pinch of sea salt
Note: If this seems complicated, it just means that say you start out with 400g of fruit, you’d be using between 160-240g of granulated sugar, and 400g/400ml of water.
Sterilise jars and lids, then place them in a low oven to keep warm.
Wash the yuzu well, and pat them dry with a clean dishcloth or paper towels. Trim off the stems and any bits of skin that are blackened. Quarter the yuzu and remove all the pips, wrapping them in a muslin bag or a square of cheesecloth secured with a string.
Juice the yuzu halves, then remove the remaining pulp and membranes from the peel (leaving pith attached to the skin). Tie up the pulp and membranes into a separate muslin bag, and set aside.
Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the yuzu peel. I like my yuzu peel strips to be roughly 2mm thick, so that there’s still some texture in the finished preserve. Place the julienned peel into a large pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Let boil for 5 minutes, then drain well.
Return the blanched and drained peel to the same pot, add sugar (I start with 40% and increase if the fruit is not setting or if it doesn’t taste sweet enough towards the end of the cooking process), a pinch of salt, and the water. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring occasionally and skimming any scum that rises to the surface, until the liquid in the pot reduces by about half, and a teaspoon of jam placed on a cold saucer for 5 minutes wrinkles when you nudge it.
Remove from the heat, and let it stand for a couple of minutes. Transfer into your sterilised jars, firmly screw the lids on, and process in a boiling water bath. Sealed and kept in a dark, cool place, the jam will keep for 6 months to a year, but once open, store in the fridge and consume within about 4 weeks.