Tuesday, August 17, 2010




: a tangy sauce made with citrus juice, rice wine vinegar, and soy sauce and used especially on seafood

I got a little excited upon discovering this word was borrowed (assimilated) from Japanese (FINALLY, something not Latin). PONZU literally translates to "juice squeezed from sour oranges." But the etymology went on to reveal the Japanese word was originally influenced by the Dutch word pons, for "punch," as in: parties, crystal bowls, and secretly-distributed liquor.

According to recipetips.com, the sourest oranges are the Bergamot or the Seville, both grown predominantly in Italy. Not that this matters, though, because every PONZU recipe I find doesn't involve oranges, only limes and lemons. That's fair. Limes and lemons are surely more accessible than the Bergamot or the Seville and sourer than your average orange.

Three more things:

1) Bergamot and Seville sounds like either the name of a haberdashery or a law firm, and

2) While sourer and sourest are words, they don't sound right when said or read. In all fairness, neither do more sour and most sour. Why is this? Is it because things just aren't supposed to be that sour?, and

3) Can one spike the PONZU?

A PONZU recipe from the NYTimes:

Ponzu Sauce

Yield 2 1/2 cups

Time 15 minutes, plus 2 hours

Homemade ponzu will keep for several days with no loss in quality.

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, more to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 cup good-quality soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (or 1/4 cup sake and 1 tablespoon sugar)
  • 1 3-inch piece kelp (konbu)
  • 1/2 cup (about 1/4 ounce) dried bonito flakes
  • Pinch cayenne
  • In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Let sit for at least 2 hours or overnight. Strain. Just before using, you might add a small squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Covered and refrigerated, ponzu will keep for at least several days.

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