What is Wasabi? Get to Know Japan’s Iconic Condiment!

  • In many Japanese occasions, wasabi has always been one of the main ingredients. This is an extremely spicy condiment, which is popularly used in eating sushi. This can also be used in a variety of dishes such as sashimi, soba, udon, etc. It is available in paste or powder form.

    “Which of these is spicier?” is a commonly asked question. It actually depends on the storage or preparation. Some claim that powder really needs to be stored well.

    Origin of Wasabi

    The original name of wasabi is Eutrema japonicum or popularly known as Japanese horseradish. It is quite hard to cultivate the plant. It has to grow in the mountainous river valleys. There are only three areas for wide-scale cultivation in the country: Shizuoka Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, and Iwate Prefecture. Due to its high demand, the country is also importing wasabi from China, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

    Uses of Wasabi Parts

    The most popular wasabi part being used is the stem. This is the actual ingredient used in making the paste. Some people misconceive this as the root part. It is actually the stem which is finely grated into powder or made into a tube-like paste. If you go to expensive sushi restaurants in Japan, chefs would even prepare the paste at the moment the customer orders so as to preserve its flavor. Flavor is said to be lost in only 15-20 minutes!
    The large heart-shaped leaves of wasabi are known as petioles. These are said to be edible, flavourful and delicious too!

    To maintain the freshness of the wasabi leaves and stems, store them very well in the fridge for 10 days! You have to wash them first, then leave them moist. Next, store them in a plastic zip-type bag. Keep away from the eyes! Do not inhale it! Don’t give to pets! Consume it moderately!