丸柚餅子のしほり An Introduction to Maru-yubeshi


The Traditions of the Maeda Clan, Rulers of the Kaga Domain


Funaki Dennai, the head chef for the Maeda Clan that ruled over the Kaga Domain of medieval Japan, wrote a recipe book with his son Yasunobu in which they detailed how to make maru-yubeshi, or whole unsliced yubeshi sweets. The Maeda clan recorded the recipe and history of yubeshi some 260 years ago, though the history of yubeshi stretches back another 530 years to a salty prototypical yubeshi from the Muromachi era (1336–1573). Ever since, it is believed that the yubeshi that the lord of the Maeda Clan ate was elegantly served by samurai chefs known as the “kitchen knife samurai.” In the eternity between then and now, the responsibility for maru-yubeshi has proudly been taken up by Yubeshi Souhonke Nakauraya, and we continue to produce it to this day.


Spreading via Traveling Salesmen of Wajima-nuri Lacquerware


The town of Wajima, where Yubeshi Souhonke Nakauraya is based, is best known for its wajima-nuri lacquerware. Since long ago, wajima-nuri lacquerware would be sold by traveling salesman who would visit their regular customers all throughout Japan. When salesmen would visit their customers to take orders or to deliver the goods, they found that having maru-yubeshi with them could be a valuable way to delight their customers. The maru-yubeshi’s ability to keep for a long time was a great benefit to these salesmen, allowing them to conveniently bring them along on their way out of Wajima. Though the maru-yubeshi would harden during the long trips, the salesmen could demonstrate their prowess in their customers’ kitchens to reheat and revive these sweets by steaming or broiling them.


Served with Tea or in Japanese Cooking


Maru-yubeshi can be served on its own, thinly sliced, as a sweet side to go along with tea, or as an ingredient in a chawan-mushi savory custard or in traditional Japanese soups. The fragrance of the yuzu, along with its sweetness and bitterness, adds a wonderful and distinctive touch to a wide variety of Japanese dishes, such as tempura. Maru-yubeshi is made with traditional Japanese techniques, making the perfect addition to any Japanese dish.


Served with Drinks, as an Appetizer, or in Western Cooking


Maru-yubeshi, served thinly sliced on its own or with cheese, pairs nicely with dry sake, shochu, beer, whiskey, brandy, and red or white wines. Alternately, combining the flavor and texture of maru-yubeshi with olive oil, salt and pepper, uncured ham, or salami makes for a uniquely and unexpectedly delicious appetizer as well. Maru-yubeshi also goes well with a variety of other dishes, being a delicious addition to salads, a topping for pizza, and a wonderful complement to yogurt, ice cream, or other desserts.


As Soft or Firm as You Like


Maru-yubeshi are made to keep for a long time; it takes a minimum of half a year to simply make them, and some of them are two or three years old when they’re sold. Maru-yubeshi are steamed to soften them before sale, but as time goes by, they will gradually harden again. These hardened maru-yubeshi can be softened again by heating them up, such as by steaming or broiling. If refrigerated immediately after softening, they will remain softened for longer. Whether it’s soft and tender or nicely firm, you’re bound to find a firmness that’s just right for you.