With a name that is fun to say and a knack for providing an additional kick to any food, wasabi is still a mystery to some.
If you are a fan of Japanese food, you know that wasabi is the green colored spicy Japanese condiment that you have knowledge of from experience. Wasabi is tasty, and it’s hot, but beyond that, what is wasabi? If you think there has to be more to wasabi than the flavor alone, then you are absolutely right. Wasabi is not just an exciting sauce with a distinct flavor that you can pair with your food for a more lively meal.
Wasabi actually has more surprises up its sleeve than spice alone. If you’re curious to learn more about wasabi and all that it brings to the table, then this article is for you. Here are five things you may not have known, but need to know, about wasabi sauce.
It’s Not As Exotic As You Might Think
You know that wasabi is spicy, hot, flavorful, enlivening, and green. But what exactly is it beyond the descriptive qualities? Well, with a name like wasabi, the condiment sounds like something rare that you might only find in the most remote of locations, if you’re lucky. Wasabi might sound exotic, especially if you call it by its official name of “wasabia japonica.” Wasabi sauce is actually created directly from the Wasabia Japonica, a root native to Japanese agriculture.
Though the entire wasabi plant is not used to make the condiment, the leaves of the plant are still completely edible. Some people sprinkle them throughout a salad or bake them in the oven as a healthy alternative to chips.
Wasabi is actually very closely related to other types of vegetable plant-based condiments that you know and love. Wasabi is similar in nature to cabbage, mustard, and horseradish. Of the three, wasabi is most related and similar to horseradish.
In fact, wasabi is often referred to as Japanese horseradish. They both look, taste, and even smell nearly identical. These four are all related to each other in some fashion, the primary way being that they are derived from the same family of plant. Wasabi is not as far-fetched as many people think. Now that you have learned more about the origin of wasabi, the plant native to Japan doesn’t sound too exotic after all, does it?
It’s Nutritionally Good for You
The good news for wasabi eaters is that wasabi is a goldmine of nutritional value. For those of you who eat wasabi semi-regularly, you will be pleased to hear that wasabi contains a wealth of vitamins and minerals. Some of these vitamins and minerals included in wasabi are vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as many others. The list goes on and on.
Even furthermore on the topic of health benefits, wasabi is also filled with an herbal compound known as isothiocyanates. Acting as a powerful antioxidant, isothiocyanates are only obtainable through consumption of vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, and, believe it or not, wasabi! A few benefits of isothiocyanates include…
- Act as cancer-fighting agents by preventing activity of cancer-causing agents
- Protect cells from damage
- Pause overactive cells from multiplying, which can help with the prevention of cancer
- Similarly, cause cancerous cells to die which assists in healing from and curing of cancer
- Keep your heart healthy and prevent heart attacks as a result
- Fight off chemicals that could otherwise lead to chemically-derived cancers
Known by many as the “wonder compound,” wasabi has been shown, time and time again, to have anti-inflammatory effects, making it a good addition to any healthy diet.
Most Wasabi Isn’t Actually Wasabi
It’s time to let you in on one of the biggest wasabi secrets of them all. Most wasabi that claims to be authentic outside of Japan isn’t really genuine, true wasabi. Real wasabi is expensive, making it actually quite rare to acquire. Japanese restaurants that operate on lower budgets, as well as generic grocery stores that stock their shelves with wasabi, do not sell the real wasabi ingredient. However, these brands that produce inexpensive wasabi imitate the flavor very well. By creating a concoction and using a combination of mustard, horseradish, and other spices, companies can mimic the taste, scent, and overall flavor of wasabi, but at a more affordable price point.
There are ways to ensure that the wasabi you are purchasing and consuming is authentic wasabi. If you do research online before dining at a restaurant, you might be able to figure out if the wasabi they serve is pure Japanese wasabi. Likewise, you can look at a store’s inventory list online and research the brands they offer. At the end of the day, you can always simply find out as a restaurant manager or store owner if the wasabi they offer to customers is real or fabricated.
You Can Eat It with Lots of Foods
Wasabi is quite the versatile ingredient. Have you tried wasabi on foods other than those it usually comes with? Pairing wasabi with foods that seem outlandish as a duo might just open your eyes to some of the best flavor combinations your taste buds have ever tried. Wasabi compliments a variety of foods, both from Japanese cuisine and the foods of other cultures. While wasabi is primarily associated with traditional Japanese cuisine, wasabi is a match for many other dishes.
In Japan, wasabi goes very well with sashimi, which is a dish consisting of thin slices of raw meat. If you are in the mood for something a little more American, why not try having wasabi as a condiment alongside a sirloin steak or on top of your hamburger? Of course, the most obvious food you can have real wasabi with is sushi. Wasabi typically accompanies every sushi roll, as do soy sauce and ginger. Have you ever tried wasabi with sushi? If not, now is your chance! Head on over to our website and check out our simple guide to eating sushi for first-time eaters.
Eat Real Wasabi Quickly, and in Various Ways
If you have ever been lucky enough to taste real wasabi in sauce form at the dinner table, then you know that wasabi should be consumed soon after being prepared. When it comes to wasabi, you only have around 15 to 20 minutes to enjoy the spicy condiment before it starts to lose its sharp flavor. Wasabi is ground from the root of the Wasabia Japonica, so after the 15-minute mark, wasabi starts to lose its freshness. The less fresh wasabi is, the less intense the spicy ingredient will be. Wasabi packs a powerful punch when eaten immediately after preparation. If you are looking for a more subtle hint of wasabi flavor, then consuming the sauce right away will be less important. Just know that the sooner you eat wasabi, the spicier it will be, so make sure you have some milk nearby in case the kick is too much for you.
Wasabi is not only a sauce, either. It can be eaten in a variety of ways. As a dipping sauce, wasabi is a great condiment for just about anything you could imagine. Wasabi can also work well as a topping on a salad or used as the coating for a sautéed fish or type of meat. Chefs who understand the nature of wasabi will prepare it just before serving, in order to ensure that it does not lose its prime flavor before you have the chance to indulge in it. Whenever you order wasabi, try to remember the 15-minute rule. If you are preparing wasabi from your home for your own homemade meal, save the wasabi preparation for last.
Try a Wasabi Sauce Recipe Today
Even though wasabi has a reputation of being an exotic, far-fetched condiment that people tend to avoid, wasabi is actually not as out there as people assume. As the cousin of horseradish, wasabi is just another condiment that everyone should try at least once in their lifetime. From authentic Japanese dishes like sushi and Udon noodles, to the more Americanized style of seared salmon and grilled hamburgers, wasabi is an incredible flavor enhancing addition to any meal. With an expansive range of nutritional benefits, wasabi sauce is more than just tasty.
Are you a wasabi fanatic with a watering mouth, in the perfect mood for wasabi? Are you new to wasabi and eager to try it after reading about its amazing qualities? Then contact us today to make a reservation at one of our six restaurants. When dining with us, you will have the opportunity to sample wasabi alongside our contemporary Robata Japanese cuisine. This is an experience you are sure to enjoy. We hope to see you soon.