The real wasabi
Do you know that most of the wasabi you have eaten until today is not real wasabi? It is an imitation of wasabi, just as “surimi” is an imitation of crabmeat, made from cheaper fish, flavored and colored to resemble crab.
What is the green paste called wasabi?
It was a surprise to discover that the bright green ball of dough decorating the sushi trays is not wasabi at all. The truth is that instead of the highly prized Japanese rhizome, a mixture composed of horseradish, mustard, cornstarch, and natural dyes is administered that attempts to mimic the flavor.
It is not an exotic seasoning, just another food product to solve the problems and costs of this prized and very delicate ingredient.
Now you know why waiters in Japanese restaurants often refer to it as “horseradish.”
Pipes and powders that we will find on the market under the name “Wasabi” are actually an imitation of the rarer real wasabi.
Real wasabi (scientific name Wasabia japonica) is very expensive, difficult to grow, and there are few producers worldwide, making it difficult to purchase. A translation error decades ago led to the belief that the Japanese wasabi root was essentially the same thing as the common horseradish (a cousin, Amoracia rusticana), and sushi bars began serving imitation because the spicy flavor of real wasabi (even though it is like drinking a cheap glass of wine over a pleasant and exciting glass of good wine) copies the spicy taste.
The Wasabia Japonica
grew in the wild for millennia, then was cultivated centuries ago in a Japanese mountain village. It can take three years to reach maturity, and during that time, changes in temperature, light, and soil conditions can interrupt its growth process, unlike the more common horseradish, which is much more resilient, and much faster growing.
Wasabi has been successfully cultivated in northern Japan, parts of China, Taiwan, Korea and New Zealand.
So where can we find real wasabi?” For a long time the answer was “in Japan!” and in a handful of very expensive restaurants that could afford salacious airfreight to offer their wealthy customers this true delicacy.
But now, thanks to the efforts of Nipponia, it is possible to purchase the
in fresh root form for grating or frozen already grated.
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