What is Wasabi made of? Wasabi is made of the roots of the Japanese horseradish (Wasabia Japonica). It is famous for its use as a condiment with sushi and sashimi, but it is also used in other traditional Japanese dishes. It either comes in the form of a green paste or in powder form.Wasabi is made by grating the root of the Japanese horseradish with a oroshigane. This is a Japanese grater that is very different from those we use. It is capable of much finer grating. Traditionally, a grater made from sharkskin was used. Grated wasabi powder is then mixed with water to form paste.
The Taste of Wasabi
♦ Eating wasabi is quite an experience for a foreigner. It is very strong and a small portion (no more than the size of a match head) will make it seem as if your mouth is on fire. The vapor floods into the nostrils and it feels as if you’re breathing flames. The good news is that as it is water based (and not oil base) it dissipates within a few seconds and leaves no burning sensation in the mouth. The chemical responsible for wasabi’s pungency is the highly volatile allyl isothiocyanate. This enzyme is released when the cells on the root rupture.
♦ Wasabi is available in the forms of paste or powder. You can find it in many supermarkets. Just be careful that you are getting the real thing. There are many fake wasabis in the market. These are made of from European horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. It is not strong at all and it’s not even close to the real thing.
Health Benefits of Wasabi
♦ Besides having a taste that can become quite addictive, real wasabi offers major health benefits. Besides helping to prevent tooth decay, wasabi is also good for the heart. Recent medical research has shown that the isothiocyanates that are found in this food can help in preventing cancer. Naturally, wasabi is also excellent for clearing the sinuses.
How to Make Wasabi
♦ You can even try making your own wasabi.
– Mix five tablespoons of good soya sauce, three teaspoons of wasabi powder, one teaspoon of sunflower oil, two teaspoons of sesame oil and one teaspoon of white pepper together in a bowl.
– Stir the ingredients up until they form a thick green paste.
– Note that this is a mild form of wasabi and it is perfect for someone trying it for the first time or someone who is not used to hot spices.
– To get the real flavor of wasabi, add another three teaspoons of soya sauce and another two of wasabi powder. Just remember that wasabi should be consumed in very small doses. Mix the paste with some soya for a tasty dipping sauce.
There are certain ‘firsts’ in life that we never forget – our first girlfriend, the first car we owned etc. Getting the taste of wasabi for the first time is one such unforgettable experience.