Would the Real Wasabi Please Stand Up?
This entry was posted on June 16, 2008.
If you're a sushi fan, chances are you're in love with that notorious neon-green paste known as Wasabi. Half the fun of going out for sushi is watching friends' reactions when they try this popular Asian condiment for the first time. "It's Wasabi," you exclaim to the sashami neophytes at the table. You convince them to try it and laugh as they experience the sinus-clearing wonder of Wasabi.
We hate to disappoint you but that fiery putty most likely wasn't the real Wasabi. All this time, you've been flavoring your fish with a combination of horseradish, spicy mustard, and food coloring. Yes, you were duped by Wasabi's evil doppelganger, Japanese horseradish. Once you understand the origin of authentic Wasabi, you'll see why the server brought an impostor to your table.
Wasabi Japonica is generally sold in the form of a root and it quickly loses flavor if it's exposed to air. This is the main reason that the tuber is not typically sold in a tube. It costs about $10 for one little root, so a quick look at the price tag will tell you if it's real Wasabi or not. But why is authentic Wasabi so expensive?
This cute root has a list of demands that rival an A-list celebrities'. It requires a cool, damp climate and although it can grow in the ground, it prefers a luxurious gravel bed. Clean water is a must and the temperature must be mild, not the least bit hot for Wasabi's survival. Wasabi grows successfully in few areas, namely Japan and the Pacific Northwest.
The flavor of Wasabi Japonica is revered throughout Japan and the rest of the world. If the real stuff shows up at your table the next time you're at a sushi bar, consider yourself lucky. If not, perhaps you could find true Wasabi at your local Asian food mart and experiment with some new cooking techniques. Or get your fix with these addictive Wasabi Peas. Be warned: this is one condiment that will make you cry! To search for Wasabi-flavored products shop afg.portent.com.