Monday, February 16, 2004


Yesterday afternoon after stacking some firewood, while eating lunch in which I had some yuzu kosho (lit. yuzu black pepper) on my rice I was going through my usual yuzu kosho-eating "boyoboyisthisgood" routine when I was reminded by the hot spiciness and psyche-permeating flavor that I had earlier resolved to mention yuzu kosho in these ethereal ramblings, which I am herewith doing.

If I were a betting man, which I haven't been since I finally edged into the winning column with a big night of poker some years ago, I'd be willing to wager a considerable sum that if you were to sit down for, say, a hundred years and try to imagine the flavor that would result from mashing together red pepper and yuzu, you couldn't do it. Not that I'd instigate such a long-term undertaking mind you, there are more productive things to do with your time I'm sure, like stack my firewood, but in any case, there's a simpler way to find out: just get a jar of yuzu kosho at the store of great tastes nearest you.

Concocted of red pepper and yuzu grated together into a succulent green paste that somewhat resembles genuine wasabi (Japanese horseradish), yuzu kosho has a puzzling deliciousness that, while spicy hot, is so tastebudding that at first you don't care at all about the puzzle. Nevertheless the puzzle is there in all its green transcendance, and sooner or later works its way into the deliciousness you try to figure it out as you chew and savor, but you can't even really identify the yuzu in the mix, though somehow it's definitely there, and even though the red pepper seems to contribute only its zingy heat.

In some magical fashion, red pepper and yuzu thus commingle to create a tasty gateway to another cuisinal dimension. In time, pondering that new dimension becomes integral to the deliciousness of yuzu kosho, which thus healthfully directs you savor and concentrate on what you're eating. On rice, in sauces, soups, chile, mixed in miso or mayonnaise (bet it would be good in a Bloody Mary, too), yuzu kosho is cuisinally exponential.

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