The Real Wasabi: The True Story

How You Can Tell Real from Not

Wasabi is the perfect accompaniment to many Japanese dishes. Do you know what real wasabi taste like? Outside of Japan, most of the wasabi served is just a mix of horseradish, mustard and food coloring. Even in Japan where the plant is not so easy to grow and the demand for it so high, you will still find horseradish mix instead, sometimes with some real wasabi.

Real wasabi tastes more plant-like or herbal than the horseradish mix. Real wasabi is very hot but doesn’t have a lingering, burning aftertaste. It’s smoother and cleaner in taste than the one that passes for wasabi in many restaurants, at the grocers or even in Japanese specialty stores.

Wasabi belongs to the family of plants that also includes horseradish and mustard. It is one of the world’s most expensive crops, and a highly priced spice commodity growing in cold mountain streams in northern Japan. It takes over a year to grow before it can be fully harvested. Wasabi’s growing conditions are very restrictive, preventing its wider cultivation.

Freshly grated wasabi is actually not hugely hot: it reaches its hottest about five minutes after grating. Twenty minutes later the heat has died down again. For the freshest wasabi, you must grate the root right before serving, as the wasabi will only hold its strong flavor for about 15 minutes after preparation.

Some high-end restaurants prepare the wasabi paste when the customer orders, and is made using a grater to grate the root. The dish has to be served immediately or at least covered. Sushi chefs usually put the wasabi between the fish and the rice covering the paste to preserve its punch. Wasabi’s uniqueness is the perfect supplement to the Japanese diet. Now you know some of its secrets.

Real Wasabi at FLO

At Flo Japanese Restaurant and Sake Bar, we only serve 100% pure wasabi. Enjoy our authentic classics with the perfect accompaniment of real spice.