It is estimated that 95% of the Wasabi being served (even in Japan) is not authentic Fresh Wasabi but horseradish dyed green. What visually appears to be a green root, real Fresh Wasabi is technically a rhizome, or ‘mass of roots,’ and has a refreshing sweetness with just enough heat to wake up your taste buds that entertains the palate. Once you prepare it properly at home, you will be convinced there is no substitute for authentic Fresh Wasabi. You may soon find yourself taking a pass at the fake stuff served at most restaurants.
Suggestions: Remember to order a Wasabi Grater. We offer stainless steel Wasabi Graters here at Artisanal Foods because traditional Wasabi Graters are made with shark skin. We do not like to support any product make from sharks, and they can not be washed, which makes them impractical. If you don’t have a grater, you can use a microplane rather then using a mortar and pestle to grind the shavings into a paste. Like garlic, the more cells you crush, the more heat you will release.
Wasabi was first taken from the wild and cultivated during the 1600’s in Shizuoka, Japan. Wasabi rhizomes will continue to grow for two years, then stop growing or rot. After two years, a wild Wasabi rhizome could be only 1 inch long. As a result of hundreds of years of selective breeding, a two year old cultivated rhizome will be around 4 inches in length. Japanese Wasabi growers believe there are hundreds of species of Wasabi, though most are hard to distinguish. Wasabi is best when grown in the “sawa” method, meaning in running water. Some modern farms use hydroponic green houses. The best Wasabi should be creamy in texture when ground into a paste. Where it is harvested fresh, Wasabi leaves are often served as an exquisite tempura.
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