There is a Japanese tradition of bathing in yuzu lemons one the first day of winter. I've always meant to try it, wondering what kind of magic alchemy the lemons would work in bathwater. Oh sure it would be another one of my western appropriations of romanticised eastern culture, like Bjork in the delightfully silly Drawing Restraint 9. But doesn't it look fun to bathe with lemons?
Yuzu lemons show up every once in a while at Whole Foods but you can almost always count on seeing them through the winter at Sunrise Mart, a Japanese market in SoHo. I remembered this; what I forgot is how expensive they are. The tiny, lime-sized fruits are currently $3.25 each. I bought two and they spent the week in the refrigerator while I debated their fate.
It was time to face a difficult truth: even through we have a wonderfully large tub I don't really like taking baths. I'm always either too hot or too cold, my face sweats, the pages of whatever I'm trying to read get wet. I'd rather just get clean in a shower and read later in a dry space. This meant I would cook the lemons instead.
Yuzu lemons have a delicate flavor with a little bit of lime and grapefruit. It's probably best in a cocktail, a tart, or lemonade, but you'll have to visit someone else's blog for those recipes. I've got to get dinner on the table, so I made a Japanese-ish rice casserole with brown rice, chicken, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, and enoki mushrooms.
Marinate the chicken in 2 T soy sauce and 2 T mirin, then add that and the marinade to all the other ingredients with enough water for the rice. Bring to a boil, lower heat to low, and cover with a lid wrapped in a tea towel. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat but keep covered for an additional 20 minutes. Check the rice. If it's cooked and the liquid mostly dissolved, serve. If not, put back on heat and simmer until done.
The lemons came in at the end. Cooking will often obliterate delicate flavors, so I added juice and zest from the yuzus at the very end, when the casserole was finished cooking. I also garnished with green onions. The bright, citrus flavor was lovely, though again, I don't think it was the best venue for yuzus. I would make this again with regular or meyer lemons.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Posted by Adriana Velez at 9:21 AM