Itadakimono from NoRecipes: The hyuganatsu is a very mysterious citrus from southern Japan that apparently just appeared in 1820. I became acquainted and enchanted with this fruit this spring thanks to a business associate that is originally from Miyazaki. The taste is uniquely sour and very fragrant. The white pith between the flesh and peel is very thick and is not bitter and is eaten with the fruit.
Hyuganatsu is only available in Kyoto for a few weeks in the late winter and early spring and most Japanese have never eaten it. This spring I was inspired to some truly exquisite marmalade with hyuganatsu.
Renowned Foodies in Kyoto from NYC
Marc from NoRecipes.com, a foodie blogger friend was in Kyoto this week and we finally got a chance to meet in person and ‘foodie’. He brought along Stephane from ZenCanCook.com, Stephane is a real French chef. The night of their arrival we did Japanese beef at Hiro, then sake at Nihonshu Bar Asakura then sumashi ramen at Takaraya. A few days later we did the wholesale food market and Kyoto-style sushi lesson at Kichisen with Chef Tanigawa.
Hyuganatsu Wagashi Omiyage
Marc was in Miyazaki, on Kyushu, before he came up to Kyoto and he kindly brought some omiyage souvenirs for me including Miyazaki’s undisputed meibutsu, the hyuganatsu in the form of a whole candied hyuganatsu filled with hyuganatsu flavored white yokan from a shinise in Miyazaki. It was a foodies dream come true.
Hyuga-no-Kaori Yokan (七万石 日向のかほり)
There are a number of wagashi confections in Japanese cuisine that use a whole citrus fruit peel as a container for mochi, jelly or yokan flavored with the fruits juice. Some of my favorites are steamed yuzu filled with mochi, a cold season specialty of northern Japan and a bitter summer orange filled with jelly served chilled in the summer.
According to the Japanese Wikipedia article, hyuganatsu citrus (citrus tamurana) 日向夏柑橘 suddenly appeared in the Miyazaki garden of Yasutaro Magata in 1820. He didn’t know what the fruit was but did eat a few every winter but they were too sour for his taste. One summer a carpenter named Chibei Takazuma who was repairing Magata’s thatched roof helped himself to one of the mysterious fruit that was just left on the tree and he thought that it tasted pretty good. He took home a branch and grafted it onto a tree in his garden. From there cultivation of the fruit spread and by 1887 the name ‘hyuganatsu’ was in common use. It is thought that the hyuganatsu is a mutation of the yuzu citrus fruit.
Nanaman Goku (七万石) is a shinise in Miyazaki that developed this delightful confection in 1873. The confection is called Hyuga-no-Kaori which literally means the ‘fragrance of hyuga’. Development required 4 years of endeavor. To make it the flesh of the fruit is removed and juiced and used to flavor yokan jelly. The peel is candied and filled with yokan. The whole citrus fruit being candied makes this one rather unique, I think.
To serve, the confection is sliced into wedges reminiscent of the fruit wedges themselves.
How did Hyuga-no-Kaori Yokan taste?
Nanaman Goko says that they make this confection all year and with the seasons the taste changes quite a bit. I am a fiend for hyuganatsu so I was very excited to try this. It is absolutely beautiful and I felt that the packaging is certainly of a bygone and more pure era, like a Norman Rockwell painting. On the whole, I found it a little too sweet, but I was able to fix that with some Yankee ingenuity: I washed it.
There was not much hyuganatsu taste in the yokan but the peel is overflowing with flavor and fragrance. The yokan is a prefect balance to the sour of the peel. My only criticism is that it is quite sweet. Wagashi that is intended to be enjoyed with bitter maccha is often very sweet, so this is not unusual. Most of the sweetness comes from the sugar that is adhered to the candied peel. I tried scraping away some of the sugar with a knife but it is really stuck. I then tried running water over a slice for a few seconds, once to melt the sugar and a second time to wash it away. That removed a good portion of the sugar and that made the sweetness perfect for me.
Eating Hyuganatsu Fresh
You can see how to slice the hyuganatsu for eating fresh on this Sake Chat and Hyuganatsu Kyoto Diary article.
Hyuganatsu Marmalade Article Tease:
This was a beauty to behold, cook and eat! Hopefully I will get to it soon, until then..