Buy now real wasabi from us: Merry konnichi wa from Japan!
Why is wasabi so hot? Is this Japanese specialty known under any other names? Why is wasabi so hard to come by? The following article answers all these questions and more.
What is in fact wasabi?
You cannot get wasabi in any shop. Your best bet would be an Asian store. The spice is often called “green horseradish”, “Japanese horseradish or “sea horseradish”. These names come from the fact that it tastes very similar to our local horseradish. It does have a horseradish like spiciness to it, however, unlike the heat of chilies, you can feel it in the nose more than in the mouth and it also fades more quickly. But the expertise of the botanists says that, despite the similar taste, they are two different plants. Both belong to the species of cruciferous plants (lat. Brassicaceae), which also includes mustard, but the wasabi is more resembling to cabbage. The part of the plant which is used is often mistakenly referred to as a root, but strictly speaking it is the rootstock (rhizome) from which the leaves are removed. The leaves themselves can also be consumed, but they don’t have as intense of a flavor as the rootstock. Wasabi takes its (stingy) heat from the so called “volatile mustard oils”, or “isothiocyanate, especially from glucocochlearine and sinigrine. These substances are also present in mustard and horseradish and are also responsible for their heat. Wasabi is however quite unique in its chemical composition, which lends it its specific, lightly sweet flavor. The plant comes originally from Far Eastern Japan, but is now also successfully cultivated in Korea, USA and New Zealand. Here you can see a video of our partner from Great Britain. The BBC has visited the only wasabi farm in Europe:
Where can you buy wasabi?
As said, wasabi is not always easy to find in the supermarket, and that’s why online is one of the best ways to get the Japanese specialty. Of course you can find wasabi in our online shop. Not only do we have the fresh rootstock, but we also have ground wasabi. You can also find special kitchen tools such as the wasabi grater and the wasabi brush in our assortment.
How is wasabi used in the kitchen?
Wasabi is used, not only in Japan, for spicing up many dishes. The most popular dishes that come to mind are sushi and sashimi (raw fish). Many Asian dishes require the addition of fresh wasabi, but you should always use a special wasabi grater, as this is the only way to unfold the distinctive wasabi aroma. In Japan, Wasabi is traditionally rubbed on a rough shark skin, which is stretched over a small board. If you do not have such a shark skin at hand, the "normal" wasabi rubbing your best option. The Wasabi is found much more frequently, however, in the form of powder or paste, but unfortunately the quality of the wasabi and its concentration is compromised in most cases. 100% Wasabi powder is very hard to come by. Conventional horseradish is often mixed into supposed wasabi products, since the prices of the two plants differ significantly. The pastes consist sometimes almost entirely of horseradish, and are dyed with green food color only for the looks. If, however, real Wasabi is particularly important to you, then you should pay attention to the list of ingredients, as we do in the Pepperworld Hot Shop! You can comfortably buy the real wasabi in our online shop. Weirdly enough, Japan itself cannot currently cover its own wasabi demands through its home production, so that they also import it from other countries such as Taiwan, China and the USA. Meanwhile, you can buy the plant in many nurseries. However, the cultivation of the original wild form is not particularly easy since it can only thrive on very fertile streams or rivers.
Which Wasabi products are commercially available?
You can obviously purchase the above-mentioned products on the internet as well as in Asian stores. You can find even whole wasabi. There are, however, lots of other foods which can be seasoned with wasabi. How about a bag of wasabi chips or hot wasabi nuts? There is a high variety of wasabi products, ranging from peanuts to beans, to wasabi peas. There are also lots of different wasabi sauces. A garlic sauce or a wasabi hot sauce are just two examples. A further Japanese delicacy is wasabi mustard. All wasabi products are, of course, suitable for use in Asian cuisine. Which products? Here’s a summary:
- Wasabi Powder
- Wasabi Paste
- Fresh Wasabi
- Wasabi Nuts
- Wasabi Beans
- Wasabi Peas
- Wasabi Mustard
- Wasabi Garlic Sauce
- Wasabi Hot Sauce
Cool wasabi recipes from PEPPERWORLD:
Wasabi Mayonnaise: Unbeatable with any kind of (grilled) seafood [External Link] German language
Mashed potatoes with wasabi: lends some “pepp” to this classic side dish [External Link] German language
Avocado salad with shrimps and wasabi: Quick to make and quicker to eat [External Link] German language
Why is wasabi so healthy for you?
As said, the volatile mustard oils are responsible for the heat of wasabi. The same oils are good for your wellbeing. These substances are known as natural antibiotics, and for good reason. Not only can they prevent the growth and multiplication of bacteria, but the prevent the spread of fungi and viruses. The hot mustard oils are particularly suitable for therapy against respiratory and urological diseases. Although the Japanese spice is also said to have a detoxifying effect, you should of course only consume wasabi in moderate amounts, because excessive consumption can have negative consequences, especially in stomach related issues. For healthy people, the heat however stimulates digestion.
What to consider when growing wasabi:
We have already mentioned the fact that the plants have high demands in their environment. If, however, you would like to try to plant your own wasabi, you can grow the plant in a well-stocked garden. In order to achieve a good result, however, you have to consider some important points during cultivation. Wasabi likes a mild climate, so a semi-shady place with little sun exposure is ideal. Since the plant is naturally located in near waters, you should also make sure that you put the wasabi in a relatively damp place. If you all these conditions are met, in two years earliest, your plant will have a root stem, which is suitable for consumption. It is certainly a special highlight for anyone who does not shy away from these special circumstances and wants to cultivate it. For all others, the already grown versions are completely sufficient.
Depositing wasabi products:
As with all other foods, correct storage is crucial for their durability. Opened tubes and glasses should therefore always be properly closed. No germs can reach the products from the outside when and only when the packaging is airtight. The storage space is also very important. Ensure that the food is stored in a cool and dark place. The best place for the glasses and tubes is therefore still the "good old" refrigerator.
Conclusion about wasabi:
Originally, this spice comes from Japan. The mustard oils are responsible for its heat. The same ingredient is found in mustard and horseradish. It is difficult to get good products or even fresh wasabi outside Asia, but you can find a small selection in our shop. If you are healthy and you consume wasabi moderately, it can be beneficial for your well-being. This way, bacteria have a hard time because of the natural antibacterial properties of wasabi. There are various modes of use in the kitchen, however, the wasabi classic is undoubtedly sushi. How you use the spice depends on the product you have. You spice things differently with powder than you do with paste. The opened tubes and glasses belong in a cool, dark place, like the fridge. If you are using fresh Wasabi, however, it is advisable to use a special grater, which you can also buy at our shop. Obviously, many Asian dishes are made with wasabi, however, it is a suitable replacement for horseradish in other recipes. The plant itself doesn’t thrive everywhere. It grows in its natural environment only next to flowing waters. For this reason, it is difficult to grow it in your home garden.
You can find more information in german about wasabi here: http://pepperworld.com/wasabi/