Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

What is wasabi?

Japanese Horseradish

Have you ever sat down to eat a nice little innocent plate of Sashimi or Sushi and seen a little softly piped paste shaped like a green rosette in your little plastic takeaway tray? Ever dipped your sushi in it and then proceeded to eat itc this mouthful of food is then followed by an overwhelming burning or fiery feeling in your mouth because you quite possibly ate way too much thinking it was avocado?


Well, you will have found out pretty quickly that you certainly havenft eaten avocado. Nope, you just ate wasabi, and it quite possibly wasnft very enjoyable if you ate it by accident like thatc. You will probably find that water wonft help a great deal so donft go guzzling water like itfs going out of fashion ? just continue to exist as normal and it will soon go away, you just have to let your taste buds recover and after a little while you should be ok. This is generally most peoplefs first experience with wasabi ? it certainly was for me.


Wasabi is a Japanese plant or root vegetable (it is known in English as Japanese Horseradish) with a thick green root which tastes like strong horseradish and is used in cookery, especially in powder or paste forms as an accompaniment to raw fish. The wasabi plant is a member of the Brassicaceae family (which also includes cabbages, horseradish and mustard). The root of the Wasabi plant is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavour. Its hotness is more like a hot mustard - the vapours tend to stimulate the nasal passages more than they do the tongue, so whilst you might not feel a burning sensation or experience a numb tongue it will certainly help you to clear any sinuses. Because the burning sensation of wasabi is not oil based it is only a short burning sensation compared to that of a chilli, the burning sensation will go away after a short time and it is recommended you eat and drink as normal which will assist in the alleviation of the burning. It is very important to remember that less is always more when it comes to Wasabi; the more you have the more painful the burn is going to be.


Wasabi is a very delicate plant; it requires certain climate conditions, lovely cool temperature and a mountain stream. It takes about a year and a half to harvest. Wasabi plants also grow little flowers on them, these bloom around the beginning of spring. This flower is also edible and pickled generally in soy sauce.


Wasabi can be brought in three different ways, generally for traditional Japanese cooking Wasabi is purchased as a root which is then finely grated down before use, it can be brought as dried powder in large quantities (a great option for Japanese restaurateurs) or the most commonly sold version to the general public is as paste in tubes (similar to a tube of toothpaste).
In traditional high end Japanese restaurants wasabi is prepared fresh to order and is made using the root to form a paste. If this fresh mixture is left uncovered for 15 minutes it can lose its flavour. In sushi preparation, sushi chefs usually put the wasabi between the fish and rice because covering the wasabi sauce until serves preserves and keeps its flavour.


It is quite common also for legumes such as, peanuts, soybeans or peas to be roasted or fried and then coated with wasabi powder (the wasabi powder has been combines in with sugar, oil and salt), these are then eaten as a delicious crunchy snack that can be considered healthy by some but with the added amounts of salt and sugar can become quite unhealthy and should be eaten moderately in small portion sizes.


Although earlier in the article we joked about it clearing sinuses, it is actually quite true, inhaling or sniffing wasabi has an effect just like a smelling salt, it can clear sinuses and also awaken people who have passed out or fainted, that there is a handy tip to keep with you in your back pocket in case you ever need it in future.


If you are watching your back pocket in terms of spending, be careful of the cost of wasabi as it can be quite pricey, some people are known to create their own ewasabif paste out of cheaper ingredients, this mixture will often contain horseradish, mustard and starch mixed in with green food colouring. This is generally a cheaper way of making wasabi, however it does in turn make it a little unhealthier with the additional starch and food dye then bringing in unwelcome artificial colours and flavours. It is rare to find Wasabi plants outside of Japan, so it is always recommended to read the ingredients label on any wasabi based as sometimes the ingredients do not actually include wasabi plant and are in fact a mixture of the above. The wasabi is often priced so highly because the cultivation of real wasabi is relatively difficult and an expensive process.


Horseradish and Wasabi are almost identical in terms of flavour however only wasabi is green and much hotter. In Japan wasabi is referred to as Western Wasabi, alluding to the fact that westerners perhaps cannot handle the ereal dealf.


When it comes to eating wasabi there are a few handy tips that I can give you from my experiences;

  1. If you see a suspicious rosette on your sushi plate and donft know what it is ? ask a friend, ask the shop owner or just sniff it first.
  2. Remember that less is always more
  3. Itfs an acquired taste, donft pressure your friends to eat it for a joke ? it will probably mean that revenge is on its way back to you.