Homemade Yuzu Paste

Homemade Yuzu PasteCitrus Junos, known as Yuzu (ユズ) in Japanese, and yuju (유자) in Korean, is the name of a particular type of rather small, very seedy, citrus fruit. Although it is commonly used fresh, and to make ponzu in particular, you will very often find it in a fermented form combined with chilis and salt, as the very aptly named Yuzu Paste, also marketed as Yuzu Kosho for ‘Yuzu’ and ‘Pepper‘ in Japanese.

Used mostly to garnish and flavor dishes, this fruit can be found in markets all over Asia, but that is not necessarily the case in the US. To add to this conundrum, yuzu also has a very distinct flavor. Some say it’s similar to the bitterness found in grapefruit mixed with mandarin, while others compare it to grapefruit and lime. I’ve even seen it described as tart and acidic like lemon but with floral notes like citrus blossoms. In other words, you can’t just grab a lemon and call it a yuzu. As for the paste, the yuzu fruit is finely zested, which is pulverized along with minced chilies and salt, then left to ferment.

Fermented Citrus Zest with ChiliesIt really is easy enough to seek out Yuzu Kosho in an international market, but, having gotten used to keeping preserved lemons on hand, I liked the idea of citrus zest fermented with chilies. For my own rendition I attempted to recreate that blended citrus flavor, so commonly spoken of, by using the zest of one each: orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Although mashing these ‘zestings’ into a paste is the more traditional way, I actually prefer to keep them whole, as it broadens the diversity of use.

“So, where could one use this wonderfully citrus and excitingly hot condiment?”
I’m glad you asked! Try using it:

  • for spicy ponzu
  • in a miso based marinade for chicken or pork
  • mixed into lamb kababs
  • with steamed clams in a white wine or soy based broth
  • to top noodles or rice
  • added to bibimbap
  • as a condiment for pho or raman
  • to garnish grilled fish
  • added to chutney
  • to bring a kick to gremolata
  • in pico de gallo, grilled salsa, or guacamole
  • included to sauce Poké
  • with wilted spinach or other greens
  • to top deviled eggs
  • mixed with caviar and cream cheese for an hors d’oeuvre spread
  • with poached or soft boiled eggs
  • added to cocktail sauce
  • as the perfect topping for spinach with eggs over-easy
  • tossed with grilled asparagus or green beans, bacon, and tarragon
  • with Sigeumchi-namul, Korean Spinach Banchan
  • to garnish eggs benedict
  • for sushi or spring rolls:
    • in a sauce for dipping
    • as an added ingredient in the roll
  • in bloody marys or other cocktails
  • with sardines and crunchy bread for tapas

Fermented Citrus Zest with Chilies - Homemade Yuzu

The traditional use of fermented yuzu zest and chilies calls for mashing them into a paste. Honestly, I like the many more options I have for use when leaving them whole.

Fermented Citrus Zest and Chili – A Yuzu Kosho Knock-Off

By: Semiserious Chefs
Makes: 1/2 cup


  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 2 T finely minced Thai bird’s eye chili
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 4 oz jar with sealing lid; sterilized


  1. Zest fully the orange, lemon, and grapefruit.
  2. Add the zest, minced chilies, and salt to the jar and top with equal parts of juice from each fruit,~2 T each, until full to the top.
  3. Lid and let rest for 3 weeks. Shake the jar daily for the first 3 days, and again as often as desired after.
  4. For use: either add them to your dish as-is or mash into a paste as desired. Refrigerate after opening.

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