Celebrating the Authenticity of Wasabia Japonica ❤ Mountain Grown ❤ Fiery Taste ❤ Smooth Finish

Q & A - THE NIBBLE

 

Q & A

CAPSULE REPORT: Most of the wasabi you’ve eaten in your life isn’t real wasabi at all. It’s fake wasabi—just like “sea leg” is fake crab, made from cheaper pollock, flavored and colored to look like crab. And imitation wasabi tastes as good as...imitation crab. So if you like the fake stuff, get yourself some of the real stuff. Unlike crab, you can afford to eat real wasabi at every meal. It came as a shock to us that bright green mound decorating our sushi trays wasn’t wasabi at all. The truth wasn’t thrilling: horseradish, mustard, corn starch and food coloring. Not an exotic condiment, just another fabricated foodstuff foisted on the American public. Now you know why waiters at Japanese restaurants often refer to it as “mustard” or “horseradish.” Tubes and powders at Asian markets that are labeled “wasabi” are likely the imitation product—read the ingredients label! “So where do we get the real thing?” we asked. For a long time the answer was “Japan,” and a handful of very pricey restaurants that grate their own from fresh wasabi root (see illustration below). But now, thanks to the pioneering efforts of wasabi-loving American Doug Lambrecht, you can buy as much Real Wasabi as you want—and bring it with you to the sushi bar—in a powder that you can easily mix into paste with water, as the restaurants do with their imitation wasabi, or in fresh root form with a grater. Before we tell you about it, we’ll share some of the questions we had when we first made discovery of condiment deception. Q. Why do my favorite sushi bars serve fake wasabi? A. The truth is that real wasabi (scientific name Wasabia japonica) is very expensive. It’s tricky to grow. There are few successful producers worldwide, making it hard to get. An error in translation decades ago led people to believe that the Japanese wasabi root was essentially the same thing as common horseradish (a cousin, Armoracia rusticana), and sushi bars serve their “wasabi wannabe paste” as because it mimics the hot and spicy experience of real wasabi (although like an inexpensive glass of wine compares to a complex and exciting glass of great wine).

Before we tell you about it, we’ll share some of the questions we had when we first made discovery of condiment deception.

Q. Why do my favorite sushi bars serve fake wasabi?

A. The truth is that real wasabi (scientific name Wasabia japonica) is very expensive. It’s tricky to grow. There are few successful producers worldwide, making it hard to get. An error in translation decades ago led people to believe that the Japanese wasabi root was essentially the same thing as common horseradish (a cousin, Amoracia rusticana), and sushi bars serve their “wasabi wannabe paste” as because it mimics the hot and spicy experience of real wasabi (although like an inexpensive glass of wine compares to a complex and exciting glass of great wine).

Q. I’ve been eating the fake green stuff for years, and I like it. Why should I care?

A. We like “wasabi wannabe” too, but after trying real wasabi, you won’t want to switch back. Beyond amazing flavor, real wasabi has a great number of reported health benefits. It contains antioxidants and has anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, and anti-carcinogenic properties. It also aids digestion.

Q. I’d like to try the real thing, but not if it’s so rare and expensive.

A. Not too long ago, you would have been correct. The fresh wasabi rhizome (root) sells for about $8 a root (compare that to 50 cents for a regular horseradish root and you’ll understand why you’ve been getting the imitation stuff at your sushi bar). Real Wasabi™ has changed all that: The company sells canisters of pure ground wasabia japonica put authentic wasabi in the palm of your hand...for less than $6.00.

Q. How is Wasabia japonica different from “Wasabi wannabe?”

A. When grated fresh, real wasabi is bright green, like the imitation product; when mixed from the powder with water to form a paste, it is a subtle brown-green color and the aromas that develop are spicy and complex. The real difference, however, is in the flavor. The Real Wasabi™ company’s slogan of “Fiery Taste, Smooth Finish™” is most certainly apt. Rather than burning your tongue like a chili pepper or causing you to tear up like horseradish, Real Wasabi™ produces a pleasant vapor at the back of the throat that stimulates the sinuses and gives us a warm, tingly sensation that travels down out spine. It is spicy, but before you can reach your water glass, the burn is replaced by an enjoyable mellow sweetness. It will make your sushi and sashimi taste better than ever.

Q. Is it acceptable to bring my own container of wasabi paste to a sushi bar?

A. Absolutely. The sushi chefs and waiters will recognize you as a connoisseur! If they show interest, you might offer them the jar so they can make a taste for themselves.

Q. Where can I buy Real Wasabi?

A. You can buy both the dried, ground wasabi powder and the fresh wasabi root (rhizome) at RealWasabi.com and at specialty retailers nationwide.

Q. Beyond sushi and sashimi, how can I use wasabi?

A. The Japanese enjoy it as a condiment with noodles, but you can try it in as many types of dishes,* as far as your imagination takes you. Real Wasabi™ adds an invigorating new dimension of flavor to any dish. We make wasabi butter and wasabi mayonnaise, and are working on a wasabi shortbread. You can even blend it into ice cream (see the recipes on RealWasabi.com, and some wasabi recipes on TheNibble.com.). However you use it, your taste buds will thank you. Consider these everyday applications:

Sauces and Dressings: Real Wasabi’s unique flavor will zing up a salad, marinade or sauce. A simple approach is to blend one part wasabi paste with ten parts of your favorite dressing.

Meats: As a barbeque or finishing sauce, wasabi imparts a delicious flavor to steaks, tenderloins, chops or chicken. It is best used during the final ten minutes of cooking. Try it with teriyaki, peanut sauces, marinades or your favorite barbecue sauce.

Sweet and Spicy: For a fabulous and unexpected twist, add Real Wasabi™ paste to raspberry, peach, strawberry, blueberry or mango jam. The resulting mixture is incredible on mascarpone and crackers. It is also tasty with fresh fruit salsa. Thin the jam and wasabi mixture with a bit of water to make a finishing sauce for tenderloin, fish or chicken.

Sweet and Spicy: For a fabulous and unexpected twist, add Real Wasabi™ paste to raspberry, peach, strawberry, blueberry or mango jam. The resulting mixture is incredible on mascarpone and crackers. It is also tasty with fresh fruit salsa. Thin the jam and wasabi mixture with a bit of water to make a finishing sauce for tenderloin, fish or chicken.

Potatoes and Vegetables: Real Wasabi™ easily lends its distinctive taste to mashed potatoes. Simply fold the wasabi paste and butter into potatoes before serving. Also, it is great with vegetables, whether brushed on butter while grilling or blended with mayonnaise. Photo: Sesame-crusted ahi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes. Photo by Sergey Kashkin | IST.

Hors d’Oeuvres: One of the simplest crowd-pleasers is to blend one part Real Wasabi paste with nine parts cream cheese. Spread it on crackers or top a dish of the mixture with with a jam or chutney for a colorful, mouth pleasing dip. Beverages: If you love a good martini, and appreciate the taste of real wasabi, you will flip over the combination. Simply add a dab of the paste to your shaker of chilled vodka. Or, redefine the Bloody Mary by stirring in some wasabi instead of horseradish.

Beverages: If you love a good martini, and appreciate the taste of real wasabi, you will flip over the combination. Simply add a dab of the paste to your shaker of chilled vodka. Or, redefine the Bloody Mary by stirring in some wasabi instead of horseradish.   *Always mix Real Wasabi or any “wasabi” powder into a paste before using it as an ingredient.

Read more at: http://www.thenibble.com/reviews/main/condiments/other/real-wasabi2.asp