Sushi fan? Chances are you’ve never eaten wasabi!
There’s a good chance you’ve never eaten actual wasabi at all – even if you’re a sushi addict.
That green paste that you’re smearing on your sashimi is most likely just a mixture of water, mashed horseradish and a dash of colouring – with maybe just a trace amount of the actual plant.
One UK high-street chain says its sachets of wasabi contain just 0.6% Wasabia Japonica plant, which the traditional paste is made from.
While it may be surprising, it’s not hard to understand why: the plant is widely regarded to be one of the hardest to grow. It requires lukewarm spring water, a specific amount of light and shade, and 18 months in the ground for perfect growth.
It also very rapidly loses its flavour once it has been grated, and is best served within five minutes. That’s why high-end chefs usually layer it up between rice and fish, to stop it from losing its pungency.
In Japan, the flavour is released by grinding the plant’s stem – not the root – on a shark-skin grater, to release the complex sweet and spicy flavour.
Food website, Foodbeast, concludes that unless you’ve tucked into traditional Japanese cuisine while in Japan, “you’ve probably never had actual wasabi”.
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