The Expensive Ingredient G. Garvin Swears By

A cookbook fan described chef G. Garvin's recipes as a go-to if you're looking for a "slightly gourmet meal with a Southern twist" (via Amazon). As the Baltimore Sun reports, Garvin got his start as a child in Atlanta, cooking alongside his mother. After a stint working in the kitchens of the swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel, Garvin moved to Europe to work as a chef's apprentice, and then to Los Angeles, where he found success as an executive chef, per the Cooking Channel

Speaking with the Baltimore Sun, Garvin admits his two greatest influences are soul food, which he grew up with, along with "a little bit of California," where he lived for 17 years. This might explain the pricey seasoning he keeps in his refrigerator at home. 

"[It's] yuzukosho," the chef reveals to Food Network. "It's a Japanese citrus that is sort of fermented and sort of cooked down. You can only get it in really great sushi restaurants, but it's a really great ingredient and really, really expensive."

Yuzukosho is a unique blend of citrus and chili

If citrus met up with chili, got together, and had a love child, it would be yuzukosho. Per Bon Appetit, the condiment is made by combining a base of fresh chilis with salt and the juice and zest of the yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit that only grows in California and East Asia. Then, it's left to ferment before it is used to add zing and spice to everything from savory meat and seafood dishes to pastries. 

The yuzu fruit itself is hardly seen outside of East Asia, where it is popular enough to be used in tea, fruit liqueurs, soups, and even to flavor cosmetics like shampoos and bath soaps (via Tokyo Business Today). While it might be considered somewhat of an exotic ingredient in America, Australian chef Adam Liaw says a homemade version of yuzukosho is actually easy to create by pounding together two green chilis, finely minced yuzu zest, and salt to form a fine paste. And if you can't find any yuzu, the zest of half a lime and half an orange along with a bit of thyme might do, although Liaw doesn't promise you'll get the same flavor results.