Wasabi does not offer only real Sushi the special kick. The hot spice from the Japanese kitchen can be used also for spicing up many other dishes, or can be further processed into a dip. If this is not enough for you then you should also know that Wasabi is good for your health. This plant has been named for a long time wrong, but the hot paste that is made from this plant has not very much in common with the horseradish. The two plants are distant relatives.
Wasabi is not only a spice. The name also stands for a plant, that is also know under the names Japanese horseradish or water horseradish. It belongs to the crucifers and likes the environment to be moist – like the last name already lets us guess. As a wild plant it grows in the home country, Japan and there near to the rivers. The conditions there are similar to those in the ponds and this way the plant can grow to a height of approximately 60 cm. Besides the stem that is later harvested and collected the plant also has a root and leaves. The leaves have a heart or liver shape and are almost plane.
Wasabi flowers especially in the period from March to May. The white flour has sepals with a longer form and four petals. The filament grow up to 5 mm long and this is why they are easily recognizable. The delicate art can be found under the earth. What is harvested is the stem that is approximately 3 cm thick. As a fresh bulb it can be best processed to a paste when serving food.
While as fresh roots can be found only in some very specialized stores, Wasabi can now be found in every bigger supermarket. It comes in different forms, from powder in a glass or as a paste from a tube, basically there are different types that can be distinguished. These are Kona and Hon Wasabi.
With the terms Hon, or also Nama, the “real” or “fresh” Wasabi is meant. The paste from the scraped bulb in ordered to be sold further is frozen or is freeze dried into a powder. These terms stand most of all for the quality of the product. At least 50% of the finished product must be Japanese horseradish, in order for the finished product to be named Hon. The other products can be further distinguished by the place of origin or by the variety. Further terms that are used are Oka, meaning hill Wasabi and Hata, where the plants have been cultivated on a farm. Also the taste as well as the color is distinguishable to the Seiyo version.
As Seiyo a substitute is meant, meaning a replacement. This means it is a mix of horseradish and mustard powder and a lot of water. Wasabi on the other hand is processed with only a small quantity, meaning 2%. The color is a result of different colorings and substitutes. Although the taste and the color varies a lot from the original, this is the most wide spread version that can be found in Europe. The fresh stem is very hard to get in bigger quantities and is also very expensive. Also the home country of the Wasabi must import in order to supply its own demand. A disadvantage of the Seiyo version is the taste: Since there is no recipe that is given, also the replacements of the different producers taste different.
Either way, it is totally worth it to get Hon Wasabi from a serious retailer, although Seiyo products are used form making a lot of different products. There are not only wrapped peanuts but also Chips and other snacks that can be found in almost every supermarket. Those who are not only interested in the taste, but also in the health benefits that it brings can order Wasabi powder as well as fresh wasabi from the Pepperworld Hot Shop. Here you can also find the passing scraper and a traditional brush. A little bit of style is necessary when you consume such a delicacy!
Not only the color and the taste, but also the heat differ a lot from Seiyo. The hottest part comes from the roots.
The original as also a taste and a heat that is brought into light by the different mustard oils. Both cannot be compared with normal horseradish. Also the heat cannot be felt in the mouth but more in the throat and in the nose. It is complemented by a lightly sweet flavor. When the powder is used without diluting it the first impression is that the taste is somewhat bitter.
Sadly the mustard oils are very volatile – after only 30 minutes that taste can lose a lot of its intensity and most of all of its heat. This is why the tubes must be closed immediately and stored gain in the refrigerator. From the stem you should only scrape as much as you need in that moment.
Traditionally, Wasabi is served to Sushi and Sashimi. A lot of other dishes with meat, fish or noodles can be refined with its help. This is also valid for self-made snacks like oven chips. The products that can be found in the supermarkets contain only the imitation (see above). Still they are hot! As a special delicacy you can find Wasabi wine and liquor.
Fresh Wasabi does not only taste good to Sushi. The Japanese horseradish is as good for the health because it contains the mustard oils Glucosinolare and Singrin. The last one can be found as well in horseradish and in mustard. And because they are so volatile you have to eat them fast! For the health it is god to consume fresh horseradish.
Eating these can have a positive effect on the digestion and stabilize it. On the other side the mustard oils act as a natural antibiotic. They don’t kill only bacteria, they can also help against fungi and viruses. Because the heat of the Wasabi is mostly felt in the throat the Wasabi is suited also in case of flues and other affections of the upper respiratory system. Also the urinary system can profit from its consumption.
Besides this the consumption could detox the liver and lead to weight loss. Also the immune system can be strengthened when consuming Wasabi and sustain the production of defense cells. Nevertheless you should not exaggerate with the consumption: like any other hot food, an exaggeration can lead to stomach aches and heartburns.
Wasabi has become an ingredient that is beloved not only in the Asian kitchen as a spice. Nice dishes can be prepared with fish that comes also from other areas or as a side dish. An example is Wasabi potato puree.
In order to do this you have to cut a small mild Chilli in small pieces, heat this up with a little bit of Wasabi in some butter and later on mix with the potato puree. The ones who use the powder, should dilute this before in a little bit of water, so that the initial bitter taste goes away. The result goes great to Salmon and other filets. The preparation is also very fast.
As tasty is a yogurt dressing added to a cucumber salad and to which you add some mustard. This ingredient does not make only in the health, but also in the kitchen a great impression.
Wasabi cannot miss from any Japanese as well as local kitchen. The uses are very varied. Especially as a dip is the Japanese horseradish excellent in order to give the snacks the right heat. Also salads can obtain the right kick using Wasabi.
Sadly to the majority, the real taste is unknown. Especially in the supermarkets you can find only surrogate, that cannot be compared with the original in any way. How could it if the water horseradish is not used inside. Though there can be also fresh Wasabi found in some specialized stores like in our Pepperworld Hot Shop.
If this is not enough for you, the Japanese horseradish is not only a taste experience. It is used also as a natural medicine, most of all as a plant antibiotic. All these traits make the spice to a far eastern must have in your kitchen and in your home!
Specially made for the Wasabi graters, this brush helps in removing all the wasabi from the grater.