What's in Season

Fresh Satsuma

Brighten up winter plates with the sweet juice of the satsuma

Illustration: Illustrations by John Burgoyne

For an aspiring chef, a food allergy can be tough to take. But Mat Clouser, executive chef at Swift’s Attic in Austin, Texas, credits his childhood allergy to oranges with the discovery of one of his favorite ingredients: the satsuma, an orange-like fruit imported to the South from Japan. “It was a fruit that I could eat that wasn’t too far away from what the other kids got to have,” Clouser says. “And because satsumas are seedless, it was actually a bit of an advantage.” Now, each year, Clouser waits anxiously for satsumas to come into season. The Owari is the most common variety and peaks in December, growing especially well in parts of Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana—there are actually towns named Satsuma in all four states—and popping up in produce aisles throughout the South. Expect flavor that’s sweet like an orange, but even more floral and fragrant, with a slight tang reminiscent of a lime or a grapefruit. “I love them for their complex and delicate nature,” Clouser says. “They’ve got a ton going on, a lot more than a standard orange.” The chef especially loves to use the fruit’s juice in vinaigrettes and sauces, which he douses over everything from vegetables to beef to seafood. The satsuma is soft enough to juice by hand, and you can expect to get about a half cup of juice from each fruit. Of course, the segments are also delicious on their own, popped as a snack. The fruit itself has very loose skin, which makes it easy to peel but also makes the flesh prone to bruises. Avoid soft spots or signs of visible injury—and resist the urge to juggle—and your satsumas should hang tight for up to a week.

Satsuma Juice Three Ways