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!
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.
Real wasabi comes in three formats.
1) The Wasabi Company grows its own wasabi in England, and delivers anywhere in Europe.
1) Pacific Coast Wasabia grows wasabi in various locations in North-America and delivers world-wide.
2) Amazon sells some frozen wasabi rhizomes: Amazon wasabi
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.