Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. These are the usual suspects when it comes to citrus fruits. But have you tried yuzu? Kaffir lime? Pomelo? Tangelo? Consumers’ palates are evolving and they are seeking more adventurous citrus flavors and as a result different kinds of sweet, sour and tangy flavors brightening up menus.
Here are some lesser-known citrus flavors to watch for:
Calamansi – Unless you are Filipino, Malaysian or Vietnamese, you may not be familiar with calamansi, a sour, tart citrus fruit that is native to South East Asia. Lucky for us in the US, it is now grown in California and more readily accessible. A cross between a mandarin orange and kumquat, it is a unique citrus fruit that is sometimes referred to as a type of lemon. But the taste is more like a sour orange combined with a sweet lime. Other names for calamansi include: calamondins, calamansi limes, Chinese oranges, kalamansi, golden limes, or Panama oranges. Calamansi is used extensively in Filipino cooking– it’s squeezed on pancit noodles, used a marinade for meats, and for desserts. It’s also delightful as a juice, combined with water, simple syrup and served over ice.
Ponzu – Another citrus-driven ingredient that is popping up on all kinds of menus is ponzu. It is a Japanese citrus-based condiment with a distinct taste that is similar to soy sauce, but is lighter, brighter, tart and more aromatic. Interestingly, the word ponzu in Japanese technically refers to any kind of Japanese citrus juice. When soy sauce is added, it is called ponzu shoyu. But these days when someone says ponzu it is in reference to ponzu shoyu (citrus juice with soy sauce added). This delicious condiment is made by simmering mirin, rice vinegar, katsuobushi flakes and seaweed together, then straining and adding the juice of one or more of the following citrus fruits: yuzu, sudachi, daidai, kabosu, or lemon. Ponzu is used as a marinade, dipping sauce and condiment for meat, seafood and vegetables. The next time you want soy sauce, try ponzu instead. It’s a delightful and sophisticated swap.
Yuzu – This is an exceptionally sour and wonderfully fragrant citrus fruit that resembles a slightly deformed lemon with lots of seeds. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon fresh yuzu, you likely live in Japan. It’s hard to come by outside of Asia. But, be forewarned; it isn’t meant for consumption as fresh fruit. It’s simply too strong. The most commonly consumed formats include yuzu juice and yuzu zest. And, if you’ve heard of it, you have most likely tried it in a cocktail; one of the trendiest and most prevalent usages. Or perhaps you’ve tried ponzu, in which case you’ve also tasted the refreshing, bright flavor of yuzu as well (see above) since it’s a key ingredient.
Keep an eye out for these unique citrus flavors. You’ve likely not heard the last of them.
To learn more about what is happening in flavor, contact us about Flavor Atlas, our proprietary, chef inspired publication on emerging flavors and how they are traveling through the marketplace.