What is Wasabi?

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Wasabia
Species: Wasabia japonica

Wasabi is also known by its botanical name of Wasabia japonica, and is an evergreen of the mustard family. There are other species of wasabi, but the cultivars of the Wasabia japonica are the main ones in the marketplace. Other species of wasabi include:

Wasabia koreana, Wasabia tetsuigi, Cochlearia wasabi, and Eutrema japonica.

They grow wild in Japan along streams in the mountain regions. It is categorized by the floral sweet flavor with a bite of spice and is used as a garnish, dipping sauce, or flavor for Asian foods.

In America, the wasabi you get at the sushi bars isn’t real wasabi but an imitation. The imitation wasabi is made from horseradish, mustard and a green food coloring. Read wasabi is terribly expensive and will lose the distinct flavor if it is dried. Wasabi should be put between the rice and the fish of sushi and never out to where air can reach it due to losing its flavor in evaporation. It is also an imitation due to the lack of cultivation areas. Cultivating wasabi requires a large scale production and there are few places that can take on such an event. The imitation wasabi is generally a European horseradish or horseradish and black mustard with some chlorophyll. The cultivation of wasabi is highly regulated as it can be a huge pollutant. Wasabi growing requires fertilizers like manure and a constant flow of water, which can be a breeding ground for pollution.

Wasabi is prepared normally with a metal oroshigane or a tool made of dried sharkskin with its fine skin on one end and the coarse skin on the other end. Any type of grater with coarse irregular teeth can be used to prepare the wasabi. Commonly sold in a root, it is with these tools that the wasabi root is grated fine before use. (Or one can buy a ready to use paste).

Wasabi is sold in root form, which must be very finely grated before use, or as a ready-to-use paste, which comes in tubes approximately the size and shape of travel toothpaste tubes.

Wasabi flavor can be intense. Its burning isn’t as long lived as a chile pepper, and it does bear a slight resemblance to guacamole. It is served in America mixed with soy sauce as a dipping sauce but outside of America it is considered tacky to do. They prefer the wasabi to be added after dipping into the soy sauce as the wasabi flavor does dissolve in water

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