A Guide To Wasabi, Wasabi Paste and Wasabi Powder
If you've ever ordered a plate of sushi, then chances are you have encountered Wasabi Paste. It is Japan's favorite condiment, and is used to accompany many different types of Sashimi, Sushi and some noodle dishes.
With a hot, distinct flavor it adds a real zest to these otherwise mild foods. Best of all, seconds after eating your wasabi dipped sushi, you will notice the hot sensation subside. Unlike other spicy flavorings there is no lasting taste or sensations with Wasabi.
The Taste of Wasabi
While Wasabi has an extremely "hot" flavor it is different from spices used in many other foods. Unlike spices such as Capsicum it actually stimulates the nasal passages more than the senses of the tongue. Because Wasabi is not oil based, it is very strong for a moment, but doesn't last very long.
The History of Wasabi
It is generally believed that the first use of Wasabi in dishes occurred after it was found growing wild in the valleys of Mt. Mizuo, Mt. Bahun and Mt. Heike. The Wasabi was gathered and used as a condiment for venison and trout. The leaves and the stalks were also eaten as a vegetable by the locals.
Wasabi Powder Explained
Wasabi powder is the dried form of the Wasabia Japonica plant . Wasabi powder can be distinguished by its light lime coloring and sharp, hot taste and aroma. Most of the powder that it sold internationally is not actually genuine Wasabi but instead a mix of mustard, horseradish and color additives. The reason for this is the high cost and scarcity of Wasabi root. For the true Wasabi aficionado there is no substitute for real Wasabi root that has been ground into powder.
One of the big advantages Wasabi powder has over fresh Wasabi root is its relatively long shelf life. Provided that Wasabi powder is stored in a cool, shaded location, it will retain its taste. Wasabi powder can also be easily transformed into paste, as well as being used as a spice in cooking. It is often used as substitute for Dijon mustard.
How to Use Wasabi
Wasabi is most commonly used in either fish based dishes such as Sushi and Sashimi, or in noodle dishes such as Soba. To use Wasabi correctly you should spread the paste lightly on one side of the fish. You should then dip the other side of the fish into the soy sauce. The Wasabi should not come into contact with the soy sauce. This is typical when eating nigiri sushi.
Some people prefer to make a dipping sauce for their Wasabi. To do this they will mix a small dollop of wasabi with soy sauce, creating what's called "Wasabi-Joyu". The sushi and/or sashimi can then be dipped into this new wasabi infused soy sauce.
How to Transform Wasabi powder into a Paste in order to make Wasabi paste:
- Take an equal amount of Wasabi powder and water and vigorously mix together.
- Keep blending until you have the correct consistency which should be slightly dry rather than soup like.
- Then cover your Wasabi powder and allow it to sit for about fifteen minutes. This will allow the enzymes to work their magic and bring out the full flavors of the Wasabi.
You now have sushi-ready Wasabi paste!