Looking to put some pep on your plate? Consider the zesty sudachi, a prized Japanese citrus that remains largely unknown to American diners. Despite its humble size—its average weight hovers between one and one and a half ounces—a sudachi packs more zippy flavor than lemons or limes. The perfume of its skin fades as the fruit matures, so growers harvest the sudachi when still green and unripe. Japanese chefs use it to garnish sashimi and season grilled fish, soups, and hot pot dishes. Sudachi trees thrive in the warm, gentle climate of Tokushima, a prefecture on the southern coast of Japan, where they are a cheap commodity. But throughout the rest of the country sudachi are considered a delicacy and fetch sky-high prices. Beyond Japan’s borders, the fruit is rarely seen.
Fortunately, chefs who cooked at the Beard House this spring gave diners a taste without asking to see a passport: Asiate’s Brandon Kida served sudachi granita, while David Myers and Noriyuki Sugie paired sudachi with fluke sashimi. And next Monday, Shin Thompson of Chicago’s Boinsoirée will serve the citrus with sea beans, pickled radishes, duck skin, cucumber, and miso.