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Wasabi: 11 Interesting Facts about this Hot, Green Wonder

on 26th Feb, 2020
We all have heard about this no-that-secret ingredient. But how much do we really know about it, except the spicy taste and delightful flavour?

The original plant – Wasabia Japonica – has its roots in ancient Japan, when it was first found around the misty, rocky river beds. Not much has changed since then – these are also the places where the Wasabi plant grows nowadays, keeping alive one of the oldest culinary traditions in Japan. It can be found mainly in Shizuoka and Nagano prefectures, as well as in Azumino plains.

This is what we could call a plant with personality – cultivating Wasabi is pretty challenging, given the fact that it needs very specific growing requirements, as well as a long time to reach maturity. This means that most of the Wasabi comes from plants that grow in a natural environment, without any pesticides or soil-enriching chemicals. Tasty and healthy! It has been adopted by very skilled farmers in other parts of the world such as Australia, China, New Zealand, Taiwan or North America.

11 Peculiar Things You May Not Know About Wasabi

 1. The roots are not the edible parts

When it comes to rhizome plants, we are used to the idea of we are eating the roots, such as in the case of potatoes or carrots. But when it comes to Wasabi, the part that is grated and used as spices is the stem, not the roots.

2. The spice taste is more related to cabbage than you would imagine

Even though the common knowledge is that the Wasabi plant is pretty much like horseradish, the truth is that when it comes to species, it’s actually a herbaceous plant, making it more related to cabbage and mustard.

3. You have to pay more for the real deal

 As mentioned earlier, growing wasabi is quite challenging and it only grows by itself in a few places in Japan. Therefore, it is much more difficult to find the real deal on the market, and it’s definitely more expensive. In 2014, one kilo of Wasabi outside the borders of Japan was around $160 and the prices have gone up ever since. So if you really want the real taste, get ready to pay for it!


4. The Fake Wasabi

Since it’s such a desired taste, yet not very easy to find, mass producers have come up with a series of replacements to imitate the taste at a much lower price. You can ask your favourite sushi restaurant next time if their wasabi is real, or a copy. And if you’ve already tried how the real wasabi tastes like, you can be the judge if it’s a good replica or a terrible one!

5. The secret ingredient that prevents food poisoning

 Even though the taste is great, the main reason why wasabi started to be used in Japanese culture is its amazing health benefits. Nowadays, we have specialised people to prepare the raw fish and keep it in the best conditions, but back in not so modern times, eating raw or poorly cooked fish could be dangerous and lead to serious food poisoning. Wasabi was a key ingredient in ensuring that food was kept safe.

6. The Wasabi flavour goes away very quickly

 Another indicator of the real wasabi can be the evanescent character of the flavour. Once prepared, if it’s left uncovered for as short as 15 minutes, the flavour will be gone. If you have any other type of wasabi sauce which lasts for hours or longer, then that is definitely a copycat. 

7. Not just for sushi or sashimi

 Even though most people stereotypically associate wasabi only with sushi or sashimi, the truth is that in Japanese cuisine, this spice can be found in a lot of foods. Due to its health properties, it became very popular in a short amount of time not just in Japan, but worldwide. You can even enjoy wasabi with your favourite dish, and not necessarily only from the Japanese menu. But then again, if it’s real wasabi, you wouldn’t want to waste it on something like Nachos.


8. The wasabi plant has a long shelf-life

Unlike the grated wasabi, the full stem of the plant can keep its flavour for months. The secret is in the storing conditions. When properly stored, you can keep one plant for months and only grate as much as you need for one-time use.

9. It’s not just about the Wasabi sauce

 Even though most people come in contact with the wasabi stem as the main spice, other parts of the plant are just as good and healthy. All the parts of the plant can be useful if one knows how to prepare them. For example, the leaves can easily be pickled or cooked and added to any dish for a little extra taste. Nevertheless, they can be eaten or mixed in foods even raw, keeping all of the necessary health properties.

10. A very effective way to fight against (or keep at a distance) E-coli

 Wasabi has been used not only in culinary but also in the pharmaceutical industry. This is due to its high anti-bacterial properties that are able to wipe out a lot of the risks related to food poisoning. On top of that, eating wasabi regularly can be a very good and effective way of keeping up your body defense.

11. The true flavour of Wasabi

 The truth is that wasabi is more of a  flavour enhancer than a flavour by itself. The spicy taste is the original characteristic of this ingredient, but its great advantage is its versatility. Being just a flavour enhancer makes it easier to be added to any dish, without any risk of bad or incompatible mixes.

Wasabi and More of Its Health Benefits

Wasabi is definitely one of the most spectacular ingredients, both for its flavour as well as for its health benefits. Fighting off food poisoning, giving an energetic boost to your body and having high anti-bacterial effects are what makes this plant one of the best ingredients to add on your sushi plate. But on top of that, wasabi also has a high concentration of antioxidants, making it a great ally against cancer and cell damage, as well as being a great weapon against heart attacks. Its purifying qualities can also help to fight off the chemicals we are exposed on a daily basis, which can, eventually, lead to chemical derived cancers. This is a great weapon for the modern world and the unseen toxicity we have to face on a daily basis. It also has plenty of minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, magnesium or zinc. Other great properties of wasabi are its anti-inflammatory features as well as boosting the immune system. All in all, wasabi is great not only because of its food-related benefits but also as a great way of keeping your body happy and healthy, keeping you pumped and ready for new challenges ahead.

Ready to Wasabi?

If you’re now craving for a delightful sushi meal with a punch of the wasabi taste, you can always try it at your favourite sushi restaurant in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. You can also try it with some traditional recipes at Sushi Counter such as sushi rolls or sashimi, or explore more the modern types, trying new mixes of tastes and flavours that will thrill your tongue buds. Ready to order? Check our menu and order now.

Wasabi: 11 Interesting Facts about this Hot, Green Wonder

We all have heard about this no-that-secret ingredient. But how much do we really know about it, except the spicy taste and delightful flavour?The original plant – Wasabia Japonica – has its roots in ancient Japan, when it was first found around the misty, rocky river beds. Not much...