WHAT IS IT?
Fundokin (フンドーキン) Yuzu Koshō (Midori) is a Japanese salty-citrus-spicy-smack that adds just a bit of neat heat to the foods that you eat! It’s a really unique, medium-spicy (3-4/10) condiment with the texture of salsa, but a very aromatic, citrus scent counterpointed by the salt and spice without the heavy onion/garlic notes of a salsa.
Yuzu is a magnificent scent! A member of the pomelo family of citrus fruit, it has a delicate, wonderful smell and taste that is lemon-lime with a hint of grapefruit and a whole lotta mysterious OOOOOH. That’s why the world is divided into those who are Yuzu crazy, and those who haven’t experienced it yet.
The term koshō usually means black pepper in Japanese; togarashi means chile pepper. Koshō is a bit of the Kyushu province’s slang for chile pepper, but it has stuck with the stuff.
Yuzu Koshō comes in two varieties, based on the color of the chile pepper used: Midori (Green) or Aka (Red). They have distinctly different tastes. I prefer the green overall, but many people like the red more with beef and stronger flavored foods that demand less delicacy.
HOW IS IT MADE?
The yuzu skin and chili peppers are finely minced. They are allowed to ferment and mixed with salt to preserve it. As yuzu koshō is most often made with green chilis, it will be an emerald green paste. The characteristic mild sourness of the yuzu combined with the pungent spice of the peppers makes for a truly flavorful condiment that has no equal in other world foods. You gotta have this stuff!
USED TRADITIONALLY ON:
- A condiment for all occasions like Sriracha
- Yakitori skewers
- Hot pots and soups
- Add to broth for a citrus-spicy in ramen noodles
- Potato chips and other snacks
A FEW RIFFS
- Great with roasted meats, especially pork and chicken
- A little in scallop (hotatekai) sushi or shrimp (ebi) makes it citrus-spicy
- In a compound butter with green beans and shallots
- A condiment for roast beef.
- Blend with honey for a finish glaze on chicken or fish
- A small bit decoratively placed on a key lime pie plating gives it a little unexpected Kosho kick!
Yuzu is wild in Tibet and throughout central China. A cousin of the pomelo, it has a very aromatic rind. It was brought to China and Korea in the Tang dynasty. It’s wildly popular for everything from foods to soaps and candles in both countries.
The condiment is a creation of one or more towns in the Kyushu province. Its first commercial use was as a novelty souvenir, like American hot sauces, at the hot springs of Yufuin Onsen about 50 years ago. Fundokin (フンドーキン), a major producer of sauces and condiments in Kyushu was the first company to produce it. Like Sriracha, it is slowly making itself known to the rest of the world, with many imitators.
It seems like it might cost more than a bit, but, relative to other premium-priced hot sauces and spices, it’s a deal! A little goes a long way.
There are a few yuzu brands available in North America, and many available in Japan and world-wide, but Fundokin (フンドーキン), which never seems to push its brand with middle-men who take credit for it being their own, still makes the real deal. Look for the Japanese symbols of their name, above, to make sure it’s their product. S&B and the McCormick-Schmick’s are Johnnie-come-latelies and taste a bit different. Like Huy Fong Foods’ Sriracha, stick with legit!