Recently, Yoko's sister Cindy gave everyone at Umami Mart a yuzu from her tree. I was excited because I had never used a fresh yuzu before. The yuzu fruit looks like a puckered, squat lemon, but is less brightly acidic than a lemon and tastes more like a tart mandarin orange. But not even exactly that; it really has its own unique flavor. It's commonly used in Japanese cooking (for ponzu, yuzu kosho, yuzu kanten, etc.), but these days, yuzu is being used in all sorts of cuisine and cocktail recipes. I was pondering what to do with my prized yuzu fruit, but before I could actually cook with it, I found it in my fruit basket a few days later, completely moldy. So sad!
Of course, then I had yuzu on the brain and had to make something with that flavor. Luckily, Umami Mart sells a lot of yuzu products, including pure yuzu juice! Lots of our customers, from bartenders and chefs to yuzu addicts, swear by the bottled 100% Yuzu Juice produced by Yakami Orchard and made from yuzu grown in Japan's Miyazaki Prefecture. I got a bottle and used it to make homemade ponzu and salad dressings, which were delicious. But for some reason I really wanted to make something sweet with this special juice, and decided to try to make a yuzu curd. Since I'm a fan of lemon and lime curd, I figured yuzu curd would be good, too. I soon found out, it is!
I experimented with a couple of recipes and methods, looking for the easiest to make, with the best yuzu flavor, and smoothest texture. The only thing I didn't do, which I would if I could, was add yuzu zest. If you have a yuzu tree (lucky you!) or a fresh yuzu fruit, add a teaspoon or two of yuzu zest for an extra zing. The aromatic zest is amazingly fragrant! But do not add lemon zest, or else you'll totally overpower the subtle yuzu-ness of this curd. As for texture, you may have had a firmer curd before, but this is more like a silky pudding, perfect for topping crackers, toasted and buttered bread, or for filling cakes, fruit tarts, and other baked goods. You can also just eat it plain by the spoonful!
Makes a little less than 1 1/2 cups
6 tbsp butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup yuzu juice
1. In a medium-sized bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Use a stand mixer or a handheld mixer, if you have one. Otherwise, use a wooden spoon. You'll also need a rubber spatula to clean down the sides of the bowl intermittently. You'll know the creamed butter and sugar is ready when it's light, fluffy, and pale white-yellow in color. It took me about five to six minutes to cream the butter and sugar by hand.
Creaming the butter can be a pain in the ass, especially if you do it by hand. But it's key to a smooth curd that you don't have to strain after cooking. In previous attempts, I skipped this step and noticed my curd had tiny bits of cooked egg white that I had to strain after cooking. Even after straining, the texture wasn't totally smooth. Now I'm a true believer in creaming the butter for curd!
2. In a separate bowl, crack the eggs into a bowl. Try to remove as much of the chalaza (lumpy, fibrous bits) that connect the white to the yolk. This, along with having the eggs at room temp, will also ensure a smoother texture to your finished curd. Now, beat the eggs.
3. Mix the eggs into the creamed butter. It'll look like a total mess, but don't worry, it'll all come together once you start cooking.
4. Add the yuzu juice and mix until incorporated.
5. Transfer the creamed butter, yuzu, egg mixture into a heavy saucepan on medium-low. Whisk frequently. The curd will start to thicken and be done in about 7 minutes. You'll know it's ready when bubbles appear on the surface of the thickened curd.
6. Pour the finished curd into a bowl to cool. Cover the surface of the curd with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator for three hours to completely chill.
7. Enjoy! The curd will last for about a week in the fridge, but probably just a couple of days, if you can't get enough!
Conbini Creations is an experiment in cooking with ingredients found in the conbini, or convenience store section, of Umami Mart’s Oakland retail shop.