Real wasabi paste

Most wasabi paste is fake!

Yes, it’s true. Over 95% of wasabi served in sushi restaurants does not contain any real wasabi. Most fake wasabi is made from a blend of horseradish, mustard flour, cornstarch and green food colorant. This means that most people who think they know wasabi have actually never tasted the stuff!

What is real wasabi?

Real wasabi paste is made by grating the wasabi rhizome (the subterranean stem of the plant). When you grate wasabi, the volatile compounds that give it its distinguished taste begin to break down within minutes. That’s why real wasabi paste has the best taste when it’s really fresh. Wasabi is also considered difficult to grow and that makes it an expensive plant. The fake wasabi paste on the other hand is cheap and has a long expiration date.

Where to buy real wasabi?

Real wasabi comes in three formats.

  • Wasabi paste in a squeeze tube. This should be sold and shipped frozen. Once you start using it, the remainder should be kept in the fridge. It’s not as good as real fresh wasabi, but much better than the fake stuff.
  • Powdered wasabi. This is less expensive than the paste variety, but also less good. Even then it still beats the fake wasabi.
  • Wasabi rhizome which you have to grate yourself with a grater, preferably a shark skin paddle. This kind of wasabi is quite expensive and hard to find in physical stores. Luckily these days there are a few online stores that sell the real thing. If kept hydrated in the fridge you can store a wasabi rhizome for a month.

 

Click here to order real wasabi paste. You can also buy real wasabi powder online. But if you’re a real sushi lover, you should try the fresh wasabi rhizome at least once.

Europe

1) The Wasabi Company grows its own wasabi in England, and delivers anywhere in Europe.

2)  Kazari.co.uk delivers fresh wasabi rhizomes across Europe, with next day delivery.

 

USA

1) Pacific Coast Wasabia grows wasabi in various locations in North-America and delivers world-wide.

What is the taste difference between real and fake wasabi?

  • Real wasabi is a condiment that accentuates the delicate taste of fish, enhancing it to another level. Real wasabi is not spicy. It’s more like the aroma of spiciness but without the pungent punch of the mustard seed flour in the fake stuff.
  • Fake wasabi has a very strong taste that overrules the delicate fish taste. It delivers a strong blast of spiciness that comes from the mustard seed flour.

Fake wasabi is everywhere

It’s a fact: fake wasabi is everywhere. In restaurants, stores, online. What puzzles me is that manufacturers, shopkeepers and restaurant owners all over the world are allowed to blatantly lie about what they are actually selling. Sure, the ingredients are usually mentioned in small print somewhere on the packaging. But the fact remains that they call it wasabi while it’s not wasabi. Worse yet, often it doesn’t even resemble real wasabi!

There should be a law against that, but apparently there’s not. Still, at least now you are aware of the great wasabi swindle taking place just about everywhere. And next time you’re mouth is on fire after eating ‘wasabi’, at least you know it shouldn’t be like that.

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