The name “wasabi” may be known to anyone who has ever eaten at a sushi restaurant, but did you know that the wasabi offered in most restaurants and shops isn’t even wasabi?
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi, a Japanese root (or rhizome, if we’re being pedantic about our terminology) with a strong, spicy flavor that helps clear the nasal passages, is related to horseradish.
It is very difficult to cultivate, yet it thrives wild in Japan’s highland streams and rivers. Some experts claim that it is THE most difficult plant in the world to cultivate on a wide scale, and as a result, its market price can reach upwards of $80 or $90 per pound.
Pacific Coast Wasabi, situated in the Pacific Northwest, is trying to franchise its exclusive greenhouse-growing methods for wasabi throughout the United States at $70,000.
Because of this, much of the horseradish, dry mustard powder, and green food coloring that passes for wasabi in Western restaurants and supermarkets is actually just normal horseradish. The genuine deal sushi can only be found at the most upscale sushi establishments.
How Does It Work?
Wasabi, as you may well know, is a popular condiment for sushi.
The real kind is always grated right before serving by the chef. But you can get imitation paste in little squeeze tubes, so there’s that. It’s also available for purchase as a powder. It’s easy to make wasabi powder—just combine it with the same amount of water and let it sit for a few minutes.
Many sweets and snacks are flavored with wasabi. Oreos scented like wasabi was a thing we came across in China.
It pairs wonderfully with salmon dishes like our Salmon Teriyaki or Salmon Skin Bowls with Avocado.
Purchase and Storage
Wasabi powder, if you can obtain it, seems to strike the best compromise between quality and availability. It is typically sold in no more than a few ounces of containers. A delicious paste can be made by combining equal quantities of powder and water and letting the mixture sit for a few minutes.
You may then serve it with sushi or anything else you wish! Since its flavor can fade over time like any dried spice, we recommend just purchasing a limited amount at a time.
Wasabi paste is available for purchase if you like. It’s not authentic, but who doesn’t enjoy some green horseradish and mustard now and then?
You can research the available alternatives at an Asian supermarket or on the web.
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