The first step in Kochi Yuzu’s journey into Australia
On the night of February 27, Tryber Pty Ltd and Kochi Prefecture invited chefs from all over Melbourne to a promotional event at the RACV City club. The event was held with the aim of introducing Australia to the unique charms of Yuzu from Kochi Prefecture. Traditional foods from Kochi, as well as deserts and Canappe’s using decadent amounts of fresh Yuzu juice were served to the delight of the guests who marvelled at the beautiful scent of Yuzu.
Yuzu has, in recent years, been praised within western cooking circles as a “new ingredient,” and this event was held with the intention of broadening sales routes. It was the first time such an event was held in Australia and Melbourne, renowned for being a melting pot of cuisines from all over the world, and also a city quite open to experimenting with new ingredients, was chosen to host it. 129 guests, including local media, café chefs and restaurant chefs were invited to attend and sample foods prepared to highlight the beautiful scent of Yuzu.
The guests at the packed event were treated to more than 20 dishes, especially created for the event by 4 well-known chefs from Melbourne – Pierrick Boyer (Le Petit Gateau), Mark Normoyle (RACV City Club), Ryo Kitahara (Third Wave Café), and Ikuei Arakane (Feathertop Winery). The dishes ranged from takes on traditional cuisine such as “Chicken Teriyaki with Yuzu pepper”, or “Katsuo tataki (seared bonito) sashimi with a Yuzu vinaigrette”, to innovative dishes such as “Yuzu and black sesame macarons”, and “eggs benedict with Yuzu and miso sauce. “
The dishes were all presented in a beautiful traditional Japanese way, and utilised the unique scent and sour flavour of Yuzu. The guests appeared very interested and intrigued by the new flavour and were kept busy sampling, discussing and photographing the variety of foods. Enzo Frisini, a member of the ACF (Australian Chef’s Foundation) commented with a smile that “although it is a subtle flavour, it is very definitive and has a wonderful scent. (If customs would allow it) I would love to try the fresh fruit as well. I feel very inspired.”
Fellow chef Jeffrey Tan said “All of the dishes were wonderful. I think one of the charms (of Yuzu) is that there is already a reliable distribution network for Yuzu juice in place.”
Also at the event were Calligrapher Junko Azukawa, Shamisen Artist Noriko Tadano, and Koto performer Brandon Lee. They wowed the crowd with traditional Japanese performances and calligraphy demonstrations. With Kikusui Shuzou also having a Sake tasting booth, and a corner where guests could try a Japanese foot bath with Yuzu, the room was not only filled with the beautiful scent of Yuzu, but also with the happy smiling faces of the guests.
Masayuki Hattori, Director of the Kochi- Singapore office said “Whilst it looks simple, without the correct climate and geography you can’t grow good Yuzu. Because the Yuzu from Kochi are juiced with the skin still intact, you get a very strong scent. We hope we can promote the use of Yuzu, not only in Japanese restaurants, but in local western cuisine restaurants aswell.”
According to a Kochi Prefecture representative, due to Yuzu needing a steep slope to grow on aswell as a preference for a climate that is both extreme in cold and heat, at the moment Yuzu is only grown in Japan and limited areas of South Korea. Kochi Prefecture produces about 11000 tonnes of Yuzu annually, which accounts for 50% of the domestic market. With the Japanese population decreasing, it is predicted that the need for Yuzu will also decrease. This reality, combined with the lack of real competition for Yuzu sales, as well as its unique characteristics led Kochi Prefecture turning its attention to the export market about 5 years ago. This event (in Melbourne) was the 3rd such event, following on from Paris in 2011, and Singapore in 2013.
Thanks to head chef Ferran Adria of the famous Spanish restaurant El Bulli utilising Yuzu in his cooking, the frequency that Yuzu is being incorporated into modern western cuisine is increasing.