A guide to ponzu and its many unique ingredients Featured

Published in TRAVEL & FOOD  
A guide to ponzu and its many unique ingredients Photographs courtesy of Sushi Kimura

A guide to ponzu and its many unique ingredients

Ponzu is a vinegar with flavors from different regions

Soy sauce and miso are known around the world as Japanese seasonings. Both of these fermented seasonings are characteristic of Japanese cuisine, as they are well suited to cooking with umami and to bringing out the natural flavors of the ingredients. Ponzu is another Japanese flavor, and it has been attracting the attention of chefs around the world. Th ere are two main types of ponzu. One is a mixture of vinegar and citrus juice; the other is the same mixture combined with soy sauce. Although soy sauce and miso vary in flavor depending on the ingredients and the region of origin, they do not differ in flavor as much as ponzu can. With ponzu, the aroma, acidity, and sweetness vary greatly, depending on the type of citrus fruit added to the sauce. Taking advantage of such variation, each region in Japan is now promoting its own variety of ponzu. In some cases, stores make and serve their own original ponzu, in other cases, farmers bottle and sell theirs. We asked the experts at a long-established restaurant that makes ponzu to teach us how to make it. Their ponzu vinegar has a rich regional flavor.

TJ: When, where, and how did you start making your homemade Mikan Ponzu?
Originally, we were using ponzu vinegar made by a long-established miso store in Toyohashi City. This ponzu was just delicious. I was wondering if there was any way to reproduce the taste. Around that time, a friend from school who is a mandarin orange farmer asked me if I would like to use some of his oranges that he was not putting on the market. I came up with the idea of using those oranges to make ponzu. The result is Mikan Ponzu.

TJ: How is Mikan Ponzu made?
First, we combine 1,800 ml of soy sauce, 500 ml of cooking sake, 500 ml of mirin, 500 ml of bonito soup stock, 10 g of bonito soup stock granules, 10 g of kombu soup stock granules, and 10 g of shiitake mushroom soup stock granules. Add 300 ml of rice vinegar, 300 g of mandarin orange pulp, 40 ml of sudachi juice, 40 ml of kabosu juice, hana-katsuo (dried bonito), and cut kombu (kelp) to 600 ml of the combined juice and refrigerate. Four days later, remove the kombu, take out the kelp, and let it stand for another week. Finally, strain the mixture and the Mikan Ponzu is ready to use. The actual Mikan Ponzu we make at our restaurant uses soy sauce made at Hinode Misono Oda Shoten.

TJ: Why is your Mikan Ponzu so special?
I guess it’s the way it is pickled. The taste changes depending on the degree of soaking. If it is soaked too lightly, the ponzu will not have depth. Also, we use green mandarins with strong acidity instead of ripe, edible ones.

The complete article can be found in Issue #281 of the Tokyo Journal.


TJ: どのような経緯で自家製の「みかんポン酢」作りを始めたのですか?

TJ: 「みかんポン酢」はどのようにして作っていますか?
まず、醤油 1,800ml、料理酒 500ml、みりん 500ml、カツオだし 500ml、カツオだし顆粒 10g、昆布だし顆粒 10g、シイタケだし顆粒10g を合わせます。その合わせ汁 600ml に、米酢 300ml、みかんの果肉 300g、すだち果汁 40ml、かぼす果汁 40ml、花カツオ、カットした昆布を加えて冷蔵庫で寝かします。4 日後、昆布を取り出します。昆布を取り出したものをさらに 1 週間寝かせます。最後に濾(こ)したら、みかんポン酢の完成です。お店で実際に作っているみかんポン酢では、「日乃出みその小田商店」で作られた醤油を使用しています。


この記事の全容は Tokyo Journal #281号 にてお読みいただけます。

Written By:

Asumi Noguchi


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