A couple of weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Google Reader and saw a new post by Marx Foods. They were looking for bloggers interested in trying out a trio of Japanese citrus juices, so I responded that I would love to participate and was thrilled to be included. If you're not familiar with Marx, you definitely need to go check them out. They carry an amazing array of items, many of which you're not likely to encounter elsewhere. As a food blogger, I have really come to appreciate their willingness to share samples of their products. There are a lot of things I would never bother to try if I saw them in the supermarket because they are on the pricey side, or I've never heard of them, etc. I've only been at this for a short time, and they have already broadened my horizons, so I am very appreciative.
As for the juices, when they first arrived, I was going to be alone for a few days, so I was bummed out. If I started playing around with them with nobody around to test my recipes on, what fun would that be?! A few days later, I got an email from my sister letting me know she was heading over to the Middle Eastern bakery to pick up a few things and asking if I needed anything. I told her to stay put!! I was on my way up, and she had to do a taste test with me before going out.
I have certainly heard of Yuzu before, but as far as I know, I've never had it before. It's possible that it was an ingredient in something I'm just not aware of, but I couldn't tell you what it tasted like. As for the Kabosu and Sudachi, I had never even heard of them. I did not want to be influenced by the fact that we were at least vaguely familiar with Yuzu, so I made sure we did a blind tasting. I marked each bottle A, B, C, without looking at the labels, and likewise marked 6 little cups, pouring a bit of the corresponding juice into each.
The two of us were crying from laughing at each other's expressions, and by the time we got to the third cup, my sister was joking that I must be mad at her for some reason for making her drink this stuff. I was sad and horrified, but she pointed out that we would have had a similar reaction to someone handing us a glass of lime or lemon juice and tasting that straight for the first time.
Sudachi turned out to be Sample A. What immediately came to mind was vinegar, tart, and sour. Once I was able to un-pucker, it occurred to me that this would come in very handy if you wanted to make a key lime pie but didn't have access to key limes. If you only had regular limes, you could add a little of the Sudachi for that tartness you get with the key limes. It has a faint lemon scent to it, and I noticed that when I first tried using it, I sweetened it with Agave Nectar, which produced an almost lemongrass result.
Yuzu was Sample B. That elicited a response of - citrus fruit pith, pine, paint thinner, and grapefruit. Because of the pine aspect, I thought of rosemary and that you could use it in some recipes to accompany rosemary and others to replace it perhaps. After a few minutes, the scent started to grow on me. The fresh citrus nature of the juice brought to mind the prospect of using it in a sugar scrub. Taste-wise, it was definitely the more sour of the three to my palate. Again, that's straight out of the bottle with no sweetener or other ingredients involved.
Kabosu was Sample C. It had a definite orange scent and made me think of a particular brand of orange juice, but I haven't had orange juice in so long, I can't remember which brand! On its own, it had a somewhat medicinal taste, and to my sister, it had an earthy, almost tree bark essence. One odd thing I noted was that it was soothing to the back of my throat and made me think of water. I thought I was alone in this, but over the past few years, I have found that not to be the case - I don't like drinking water because most actually make the back of my throat feel dry. If I am going to drink water, I buy Poland Spring because it has the opposite effect. The Kabosu had that same feel to me. That being said, thinking about a sore throat made me think of having chicken soup when you're sick, so I'm playing around with the idea of a chicken consomme with kabosu.
In addition to the juices, as the result of an April Fools Day post by Marx Foods on Facebook, I was lucky enough to receive from them a sample of six of their chile pepper varieties, so I have been incorporating those into most of my recent recipes as well. I haven't tried them all yet, but so far, I think my favorite it the Diced New Mexico Chilies. Some peppers blast you with heat right at the start, others are a slow build. The New Mexico variety has a sweetness to it that we love, and the heat comes at the end. They're on the lower end of the heat scale, so you get the benefit of their flavor without lighting up the family like some other peppers.
I'm still playing with the juices and the peppers and have several items in mind still to try, but so far, I have made ...
- Almond, Chocolate, and Toffee Parklava with Kabosu Simple Syrup (I brought them to work and they vanished in a flash)
- Beet, Carrot, and Apple Salad with Sudachi Dressing (My new favorite salad and first time eating raw beets)
- Pineapple and Kabosu Marinated Pork Chops (Tender and delicious)
- Yuzu Glazed Snack Mix (Even my picky eater flipped for this!)
- Apples and Creme Kadayif (Sudachi macerated apples/currants and Sudachi simple syrup)
I have a few other recipes in mind to try as we head into Easter, so be sure to check back. If you missed them, a few other recent recipes including the chile peppers were ...
Thanks again to the folks at Marx Foods for the free samples (and the laughs)!! :)