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What is Wasabi Spice?

Spoiler Alert: Most of us haven’t been eating real wasabi.

Wasabi Spice
Wasabi Spice

Description

Wasabi spice is bright green culinary seasoning derived from a Japanese root which is a relative of horseradish, highly prized, and difficult to cultivate.

What does wasabi taste like?

The flavor of true wasabi spice has an intense aromatic effect with a unique and heat that immediately clears the nose and throat, but a taste that is delicate, clean, earthy, and mildly spicy.

Wasabi Spice Uses

Freshly peeled and ground, wasabi spice is warming, fresh, and spicy without a burning effect. After grinding, use immediately to maintain the flavor. 

Most famously, wasabi spice is paired with sushi but the ingredient can also be matched with chicken, tofu, fish, sauces, and dips.

Wasabi Substitutes 

  • Horseradish: both roots are from the brassicaceae family so have very similar flavor profiles, horseradish is more intense in spice.
  • Mustard: mustard causes a similar reaction of heat felt throughout the sinuses so is a suitable substitute for wasabi.

Wasabi Compliments and Pairings 

Wasabi spice is a seasoning classically used for sushi and therefore pairs best with ingredients including fish, shellfish, tofu, soy, ginger, rice, noodles, sake, as well as poultry, eggs, and creams.  

Wasabi Expiration and Storage 

  • Fresh: wrap the base of the root in a wet cloth and refrigerate for up to a month.
  • Frozen: the flavor will be less intense and fresh but better than store-bought. Freeze freshly ground wasabi in small pouches and use it within six months. 

Fun Facts About Wasabi 

  • Most wasabi products we eat are just horseradish and green food coloring, possibly with a wasabi content of less than 1%.
  • A commercial substitute for the expensive and difficult to cultivate wasabi is horseradish.
  • Wasabi is thought to have been first popularized due to its antibacterial properties which were beneficial when eating raw fish in sushi.

Where does it come from?

Native to Japan, wasabi is the stem of the wasabi japonica plant which grows in tree-covered rocky riverbeds. The root is notoriously difficult to cultivate and transport which has led to its increased price. For those super nerdy chefs out there, you can find more scientific facts on wikipedia.

Popular Recipes

  • Sushi
  • Avocado wasabi dressing
  • Wasabi mayonnaise
  • Pickled wasabi cucumber
  • Wasabi and soy sauce tofu steak