Yuzu: Savory & Sweet

For over 350 years, the Yamamoto Honke Company in Kyoto, Japan has been brewing exceptional sake using traditional methods, passed down from generation to generation. One of the newer lines from this brewery is the Yuzu Omoi, which means Yuzu Dream or Yuzu Thought. The sake is a Junmai or “pure rice” sake, meaning there are very few ingredients used in its making: rice, water, cultivated indigenous yeast (specially selected yeast strains) and koji, which is a mold that is vital in sake. No koji, no sake. Yuzu is a Japanese lemon that is used in many culinary applications from vinegar to sweets and puddings. The juice and the rind of yuzu is added to the sake, creating a refreshing, citrusy, light-bodied low alcohol beverage. The rind is sweeter than the juice which is tart and slightly sour.  When I lived in Japan, we even had yuzu mayonnaise. Oishii! 

The bottle is tall and slim with a very cute label. The sake itself is greenish-yellow and cloudy, which is due to the sediments that have not been completely filtered out. I think it adds character to the sake. Just make sure that it is chilled and don’t forget to give it a good shake before you drink it. Prior to this review, I had never had a fruit-infused sake. It sounded intriguing, but I also wasn’t sure what to expect. On the nose is a bright citrus note with hints of sweet mandarin and pleasant grassiness. It tastes of crystallized lemon and candied grapefruit and has good sapidity (fancy Sommelier language for salt) and tropical fruits, especially green pineapple. I found this sake balanced, harmonious with food, and a nice way to spend the afternoon...listening to my two boys play Fortnite. 

Because of the low alcohol content at 7%, it could work with a savory appetizer as well as a lighter dessert. Because I wasn’t happy to choose just one, I made a savory Herbed Goat’s Cheese Spread and a dessert of Coconut Sticky Rice and Mango. They were both good choices, but the one that won for me was the goat’s cheese. The addition of lemon rind matched the citrus in the sake perfectly. The recipes are included below. Give it a try and see which one you find more to your liking. Kanpai!

Herbed Goat’s Cheese Spread

*This recipe is just a guide. If you don’t have one of these ingredients, feel free to use what you have on hand.

4 ounces plain goat cheese

Pinch of salt and pepper, add more if needed

Fresh parsley, chopped

¼ tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried tarragon

¼ tsp. paprika 

Lemon rind of ½ lemon

1 tbs. fresh lemon juice 

1 ½ -2 tbs. Olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and until the mixture is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it. Spread on Brioche toast or crackers. Enjoy!

Sticky Coconut Rice with Mango

*Use fresh mangoes when they are in season. Frozen mangoes can be swapped out when fresh ones are not available. Just put them in a separate bowl, sprinkle them with lemon juice then put them in the rice cooker or rice pot after you add the coconut milk mixture.

1 cup of uncooked short-grain rice 

10 ounces of coconut milk - I used full fat, but you can also use the low-fat kind

⅓ cup of sugar

Pinch of salt

1 fresh mango or 1 bag of frozen mangoes

1 lemon


1 tsp. cinnamon powder

1 tsp. vanilla 

Whipped cream

Sprig of mint

  1. Cook the rice in the rice cooker or on the stovetop; when the rice is cooked, move on to step 2.
  2. In a small pot over medium heat, add the coconut milk, sugar, pinch of salt, and cinnamon and whisk well. Bring to a boil, then remove immediately from the heat. Add the vanilla and whisk again.
  3. Add the warmed coconut milk mixture to the cooked rice, mix well, and cover for 15-20 minutes. If using a rice cooker, keep the rice on the warmer. If using the stovetop to cook rice, turn off the burner once the rice is cooked, add the coconut milk mixture, mix and cover 15-20 minutes. 
  4. Prepare the mangoes by slicing, cubing, or simply removing from the package, then sprinkle with fresh lemon juice. 
  5. Serve the rice with the mangoes and a dollop of whipped cream.

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