Do you want to know what wasabi is before you try the most pungent condiment that will mind-numbingly rip your sensations? Well, that is wasabi for you!
The plant is typically native to Japan and is the best addition to sushi served all across the globe.
The taste of the condiment is very similar to horseradish.
There is much fake wasabi out there. So, people usually go, ‘what is wasabi’ and ‘how do I know it is authentic?’
There are many ways you can get yourself some of this condiment. There are ways in which you can detect if the wasabi you bought is authentic or not.
You can learn many things about Japanese cuisine and culture if you study their culinary styles and choices.
Some of the most sophisticated food experiences come from Japan. There are many ways you can enjoy some of these delicious condiments.
Table of Contents
What is Wasabi?
It is also known as Japanese horseradish. It falls under the family called Brassicaceae. Other well-known plants that belong to this family are mustard and horseradish.
Even though wasabi shares a lot in common with horseradish, they are not the same. The plant is not enjoyed as a whole vegetable. It is used as a paste.
When people ask ‘what is wasabi,’ they can either mean the paste or the plant itself.
The condiment has a peculiar smell when it is grounded into a paste. Its taste is better suited for seafood. That is why many people enjoy it with their sushi.
Many high-end Japanese restaurants offer their clients this condiment and sushi. Once you get the taste of it, you will not forget it. It truly has a strong aroma, and its taste is flavourful.
Beginners may not like the taste of the condiment. Most people who enjoy sushi are more familiar with soy sauce. But some prefer it with this condiment.
What is Wasabi made of?
This is another question that a lot of people will ask. The condiment is made from a plant. Many people use this condiment in recipes.
People who ask ‘what is wasabi made of’ have only seen it as the paste. The paste is green in color.
It has a smooth buttery texture. It has a strong aroma and taste.
Japanese horseradish is served with sushi or with many beef preparations. It has a spicy flavor, making the meal a unique experience. That is why people want to know what wasabi is made of.
Freshly pasted wasabi tastes green and fresh. Only people who have tasted it will know it has a unique taste. It is a problematic spice to describe.
Most people enjoy it without knowing what it is or how it is made.
Is Wasabi Spicy?
Those who have never tasted wasabi don’t know why it is a spice. It is used as a condiment.
Wasabi may be a plant, but it has a spicy solid pack! Wasabi is spicy and green, and it is a refreshing flavor. The unique taste that it brings to the table is why many people prefer it.
The wasabi paste has a strong spicy taste. You cannot eat a whole lot of this condiment in one sitting. It would help if you ate it in small amounts.
Since wasabi has such a strong taste, many people wonder if wasabi is spicy. And it is! The condiment is very spicy. People who have tried it will know the answer to the question.
If you bite a root of the plan, it will taste not very pleasant. If you ask, ‘is wasabi spicy as a root?’ then no. The answer is that the raw root is bitter.
But when you grind it into a paste, it doesn’t taste bitter at all. But there is a spiciness to it. So, there are two answers to your question. The wasabi paste is spicy, but the root itself is bitter.
All about the plant turned into a condiment
The plant has particular ties with that country’s culture.
The part of the plant used in cooking is the root-like underground stem. The flowering parts, along with the leaves, are above the ground.
While horseradish yields a creamy white paste, this condiment delivers a bright green-colored paste.
There are particular ways of cultivating this plant.
You cannot grow it all year round; it takes much care to thrive. To develop good produce, you need clear water that is running.
It would help if you also had cool areas for the plants to thrive.
While it is native to Japan, it is commercially produced in Taiwan, China, and Korea. You can also find Japanese horseradish in New Zealand.
The plant requires a particular type of soil and pH levels to grow healthy. There are two ways to farm this plant.
You can have soil-based or water-based. Water-based ones have peculiar pH levels and soil conditions for them to grow.
People can consume the whole plant through different preparations. Though the stem and roots are the main some even eat the leaves.
The condiment is good for you. It is 83% carbohydrates, 12% protein, and 5% fat. It is harder to tend to water-based wasabi, which is why they are more expensive.
Wasabi vs Horseradish
Wasabi vs Horseradish debate must be added to this piece to understand how they are similar yet different. As if you need to send the spices into a battle to determine the victor!
Both Japanese horseradish and horseradish have somewhat similar tastes. But they are vastly different. Wasabi vs horseradish is not a fair comparison because they fall under the same family.
You can entertain the debate if you want to find out which is spicier. Unequivocally, the green condiment is more pungent than horseradish.
It has its unique flavor, but Japanese horseradish is more exotic. The former will win the position as the best condiment in this argument. You can add horseradish to a recipe. But you can’t do that with wasabi. It needs to accompany another dish.
In that sense, you can argue that horseradish has more versatility than the.
It is important to note that both are plants and belong to the same family. So, they also substitute each other in many cases.
Japanese horseradish is used more as a spice, while you can use horseradish as a spice in some other recipes. The wasabi is made from the root of the plant.
Many times, people are tricked into believing horseradish is wasabi. But that is not true.
While they are similar, they don’t taste quite the same. To the practiced person, they will understand the difference immediately. Horseradish vs. wasabi is based on one key difference.
Wasabi is the stem or the rhizome of the plant. Horseradish is the root. When it comes to horseradish vs. wasabi, both are tangy and spicy.
Japanese horseradish is pricier than regular horseradish. It is also very much in demand concerning horseradish vs wasabi. Wasabi vs horseradish are both similar types of plants.
But they are not the same. They also differ in the particular body parts of the plants. In horseradish vs wasabi, the former yields a whitish paste, but the latter gives a green paste.
Japanese horseradish is also spicier than horseradish. Horseradish goes well with both fish and meat.
Japanese horseradish has medicinal properties that make it widely used. It was initially not consumed for culinary purposes.
Eating raw meat or fish posed a greater chance of indigestion and infection. So, people found that eating raw fish or meat with wasabi helped immensely with that issue.
In the Edo period, people used Japanese horseradish as a condiment and preservative to help with their food. Also, the pungent aroma of the wasabi helped mask the fishy stench of some of the food.
Through trial and error, Japanese horseradish was introduced to more food. Since then, it has been a mainstay of many seafood cuisines and a favorite dipping sauce for sushi.
Many believe the first intentionally farmed Japanese horseradish was grown in the Shizuoka prefecture.
To be more precise, it was in Utogi. It was supposedly produced between the late 16th century to early 17th century in Japan.
Wasabi paste usage
The paste is what people mean when they ask when they want to consume this condiment. Japanese horseradish is usually grated fresh. Oroshigane graters authentically make the paste.
This is a special kind of grater to create a distinct paste. You can also make Japanese horseradish paste with mustard, vinegar, or soy sauce.
You can either use a combination of these three or use any one of them. Usually, store-bought ones don’t have actual wasabi in them.
Most of them, if not all, come from a mix of horseradish, mustard, and vinegar. The real one is the only one that you make yourself. Many fake products make many people reluctant to trust shop-bought Japanese horseradish.
Most people prefer to buy the original plant stem or root and then make the paste themselves. That way, they can control the freshness of the wasabi and retain its authenticity.
The condiment is also very expensive. The long time it takes to grow them, the special care that goes into producing them, and the limited amount of wasabi increased all impact their price.
Many authentic sushi restaurants from all over the world and Japan depend on a few farmers. There are many things to consider when it comes to Japanese horseradish.
No one wants to make any compromises when it comes to its taste. That is why the paste is hard to come by and is so expensive.
How do you detect authentic wasabi?
The actual wasabi is not spicy. The spiciness of wasabi comes in the aroma. That is why so many people ask, ‘is wasabi spicy?’ The wasabi tastes green, firm, and fresh.
But the spiciness is from the pungent smell. Real wasabi, when pasted, is smooth and thick but grittier. It is not perfectly pureed.
If you find that your wasabi has unusually high spiciness and is pureed and too soft, then that is a fake one. The real wasabi is grittier and has a smooth texture.
You will get the taste of freshly ground green goodness. No other flavor will overpower wasabi because the realm paste has nothing in it.
But the fake wasabi may taste like vinegar or mustard.
If you see it being pasted, that is the only natural way of knowing that your eating is a hundred percent real Japanese horseradish.
Wasabi is a more fine delicacy that you can enjoy with your sushi. Now, you know what this condiment looks like and tastes like. You have also learned about horseradish vs wasabi. Enjoy authentic Japanese horseradish with your sashimi or sushi!