The Japanese Citrus Fruits Used In Traditional Ponzu Sauce

ponzu sauce with accompaniments
ponzu sauce with accompaniments - Artit_wongpradu/Getty Images

Ponzu sauce is a powerhouse of delicious citrus flavor, but it may not be the citrus flavor you're used to. A popular Japanese condiment that can be used as a dipping sauce, marinade, or dashed in other dishes as a flavor boost, ponzu sauce is a tangy ingredient that mixes the taste of soy sauce with brighter, punchier fruit notes. If you've ever dipped a dumpling in a sauce at a restaurant and wondered "why is this so delicious?" there is a good chance that the answer is ponzu.

There are a few other additions in most versions ponzu sauce, like mirin, kombu, and bonito flakes, but it's known primarily for the addition of citrus. While some ponzu recipes use a mix of lemon and lime, traditional Japanese recipes call for East Asian fruits that are less well known to an American palate.

There is no correct citrus to make ponzu with, but three common citrus fruits used in traditional Japanese versions are yuzu, kabuso, and sudachi. Ponzu sauce can be made with each of these fruits individually or from a mix of juices, depending on the recipe. While versions made with lemon and lime are more straightforwardly tart, the traditional citrus fruits used are favored for their more complex mix of sour, bitter, and floral flavors. The depth of the citrus used mixes with the more salty, savory notes from the other ingredients to create the unique, wide-ranging mix of flavors that makes ponzu so appealing as a sauce.

Read more: 13 Simple Tricks To Pick The Best Fresh Fruit Every Time

Yuzu, Kabuso, And Sudachi Are The Most Popular Citrus Fruits Used In Traditional Japanese Ponzu Sauce

yuzu fruit
yuzu fruit - Ruksutakarn/Getty Images

Yuzu is the ponzu fruit that is probably most familiar to Western cooks, and if you find a ponzu sauce at your local store that isn't made with lemon or lime, it's the most likely alternative. Yuzu is a small yellow fruit the size of a mandarin orange and has a taste that falls somewhere between a lemon and an orange, although it falls on the more sour side of that scale. Yuzu has a little more sweetness than a lemon but, more importantly for ponzu, it also has herbal and floral flavors that make it much more complex than your standard citrus. In Asia, it's a popular flavor not just for dipping sauces but for desserts as well.

The other common citrus fruits in ponzu, kabuso and sudachi, are relatively similar to each other. Both are tart, green-skinned fruits, although they can be easily distinguished by size, with kabuso being larger and sudachi being as small as a golf ball. Both have a similar acidity to a lemon, but kabuso has a slight yuzu-like sweetness, while sudachi has a robust herbal flavor with undertones of spices. Each one will bring their own distinct elements to ponzu, but the mix of tartness and complexity that they share with yuzu is essential. It's that little extra element that takes ponzu sauce from tasty to truly special.

Read the original article on Tasting Table