Friday, January 14, 2011
Yuzu for What Ails You
Jessica's mom, a source of much folklore in our circle, is Korean, and so since my formative college days, Jessica has been responsible for initiating me into the world of Korean food. It started with packages her mom would send her: giant 70s orange tubs of brown, swampy fermented bean paste inhabited our fridge. At odd hours, Jessica would heat dried fish -- small whole fish pounded flat and dried like jerky -- directly on the stove's burners. The pungent reek would take over the apartment. It got better though -- Jess also introduced us to delicious sheets of crisp toasted seaweed, and smushy little Korean mochi with a bit of sweet bean paste in the middle. Later came all-you-can-eat Korean barbecue, fancy Korean coffee shops, and short rib soup you eat with scissors.
So, you can imagine my excitement when for once, I had a new Korean food to share with her. I was introduced to Korean yuzu honey tea, or yujacha, a year ago, and instantly fell in love with the stuff. Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit with all the familiar and beloved brightness of our own lemons, but with a novel flavor -- a little sweeter, and a bit more complex. You make the 'tea' (not really a tea at all, more like an emulsion of sorts) by scooping a bit of yucheong, a honey yuzu marmalade, into a mug, then adding steamy hot water.
The next time I saw Jessica, I was jumping over myself to tell her about my amazing Korean disovery. And Jessica, all cool, was like, "Yeah, I have a jar of that stuff in my fridge right now."
Fourteen years and bff status, and she's been holding out on me.
Despite my rage, we got over it, and while I'm a little sad for the lack of yuzu tea in my life the past 14 years, I'm happy that I have it now. It's delicious always, but particularly perfect when you have a cold, as I did last week. When you've finished the tea, you're left with a prize of slightly bitter yuzu rind at the bottom of your mug. As if the steaming cup of hot beverage and the citrus contribution weren't healing enough, the pith (white part) of citrus rinds contain bioflavonoids, which, according to an old doctor of mine, break up congestants.
Most of you don't have a Jessica, but you have a Tannaz. (And I mean, Jessica wouldn't have told you anyway.) Your Tannaz is telling you, go have some yuzu tea.