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wasabi


mamster
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I think that Sushi chefs in Japan put what they think is the ideal amount of wasabi on their creations and that this amount would vary somewhat according to their taste. I think it would be rare for a customer to question the sushi chef's judgement - I've certainly never seen this.

Personally, I like a little more wasabi kick and here is how i do it. I usually order several sashimi dishes before i start with the nigiri and i put the wasabi for the sashimi in the same shoyu dipping bowl that I'm going to use for my nigiri. I put it on the side and don't mix it in. That way i can touch the wasabi when i dip the sushi and get a bit of wasabi with my shoyu if i want it. By the way, sushi should be dipped in the shoyu upside down (or on the side for nori wrapped items like ikura and uni) so that the fish or nori is contacting the shoyu not the rice which will just act like a big sponge.

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I think that Sushi chefs in Japan put what they think is the ideal amount of wasabi on their creations and that this amount would vary somewhat according to their taste. I think it would be rare for a customer to question the sushi chef's judgement - I've certainly never seen this.

True.

My husband can't eat wasabi so can never to a 'real' sushi place (not that we can afford it!). We've had sushi chefs get miffed and received some pretty bad service at a few places after asking for no wasabi. So we are limited not only to kaiten-zushi, but to kaiten-zushi shops that cater to families. (Many kids can't eat wasabi so it's no problem to request sushi without wasabi at these places.)

To save the orders getting screwed up I go no wasabi as well and I have to say that I don't miss it.

One advantage of asking for no wasabi at kaiten-zushi places is that each order will be freshly made just for you, rather than taken from the conveyer belt after who knows how many rotations.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Another comment about wasabi...

There is a big difference in taste between fresh wasabi and paste made from powdered wasabi. I think there may be different qualities of wasabi powder as well. I have heard that because customers of north american sushi shops want a lot more wasabi (especially larger mounds of it accompanying the sashimi), the shops are forced to use the cheaper quality stuff which is more like wasabi flavoring with a bunch of mustard added for the kick. Next time I'm at my local sush shop I'll ask the taisho about how sushi shops in Japan source their wasabi - I'm pretty sure they are not grating up fresh wasabi every day for the sushi.

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I was at my local sushi shop the other day and i asked the head chef about his wasabi. He has two types. One type is grated wasabi that comes in vacuum sealed packages from Nagano prefecture. This is used for the sashimi orders. The other type of wasabi used for sushi is mixed up from powdered wasabi. He said that all of the powdered wasabi has horseradish in it (not mustard as i mistakenly indicated in my last post). He thought there wouldn't be that much range in quality of the powdered wasabi, but he only used Gin Jirushi (Gold Mark) which he figured was the best.

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  • 7 months later...

I recently had an excellent Beef Gyudon at Hokka Hokka Tei that was served with a horseradish mayo packet. It was the perfect match and blew away all other variations of this fast food staple. The mayo packet said something like "Harashi Sauce", but I can't recall exactly. I've searched the local markets and can't find this type of mayo. It wasn't wasabi, but more like a western style creamed horseradish served with prime rib....or actually closest to Arby's infamous Horsey Sauce served back in the states. If anyone has the exact name or possibly a type of Kewpie that might be available please let me know. The mixture of rice, beef,onions, pickled ginger and that sauce really was very satisfying. Unlike most Gyudon that is simmered, this version had a smoky flavor that may have indicated grilling. It was great! Sadly, it was a limited time offering and is now gone.

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hhhmmm。。。。。。。。。。

It sounds like it maybe one of those sauces that is specifically made for restaurants, convenience stores and bento places. It sounds like it maybe just be a horseradish and mayo mixture. Horseradish is called seiyouwasabi (西洋わさび) in Japanese and this translates directly as western wasabi. Though you don't see it on store shelves :angry: it is in the background everywhere, just look at your tube of wasabi paste you will see it listed as an ingredient, I have seen it on quite a few snacks as well.

You could always try making your own. most international markets stock prepared horseradish and I have even seen the fresh root quite a few times.

I have also seen wasabi mayo, but that is probably a slightly different taste.

I will look around as well.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Thanks for the information! I will try making my own with store bought prepared horseradish and see what happens. Knowing what seiyouwasabi is will also help and I'll keep on searching the local market shelves for a name-brand version. I agree, it may have only been made for commercial restaurant usage.

I must say though, that Hokka Hokka Tei down here in Okinawa has some of the best quality "fast food" I've had....especially the rice they use.

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  • 2 weeks later...

:smile: hi i just bought a stick of fresh wasabi hurrah :laugh:

I have only ever seen fresh wasabi root in london 3 times ever!!!

twice was at a japanese food fair 5 years ago!!! and now in my much beloved japanese fish monger Atari-ya in Ealing hurrah!!! :wub:

The fish monger who i think looks like Sonny Chiba :smile: told me it should keep for a week if i keep it wrapped in a piece of wet paper in the fridge, now the only thing is it was bloody expensive for just one stick but at the same time it seems like a lot to consume in such a short sapce of time.

Is there anyway i can prolong its life???

I thought about freezing it but i think it will end up as a watery mess when i thaw it.

Can i turn it into paste now and some how preserve it???

could i dry it and turn it into powder??

maybe make a jam or preserve it in alcohol?

any help will be much appreciated

otherwise i will be over dosing on wasabi this weekend :laugh:

well if you going to go , go with a smile :smile:

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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You can freeze it. When using it, DO NOT THAW but just grate it while it is still frozen. I use the same method with gingers.

I found a site telling you that wasabi lasts for one year if frozen in a glass bottle in a freezer.

http://www.alles.or.jp/~ohshin1/wasabi/wasabi.html (Japanese only)

I thought about freezing it but i think it will end up as a watery mess when i thaw it.

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This is one reason I have avoided buying fresh wasabi in the past, because I thought you would have to consume the whole thing in a couple of days. I might give that glass in the freezer thing a try....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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:smile: cool thanks hiroyuki

saves me from having a very interesting weekends dining :raz:

off topic question:

do you know if there are any animals that eat wasabi as part of their diet??

i keep imagining a rabbit or an otter like creature eating a stick of wasabi :biggrin:

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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off topic question:

do you know if there are any animals that eat wasabi as part of their diet??

i keep imagining a rabbit or an otter like creature eating a stick of wasabi  :biggrin:

Silly but interesting question, origamicrane :biggrin:

This site

http://www.kinjirushi.co.jp/dictionary/karami/karami.html

says

Why is wasabi hot? This is the means that wasabi uses to protect itself from being eaten by insects and animals and from invasion by bacteria.

(quick translation by me)

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  • 1 year later...

I've read that real wasabi is very expensive and that in Japanese restaurants and shops in Europe, the 'wasabi' you can buy or that comes with your meal, is not the real thing but a mixture of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. I have also read that 'real' wasabi is (very?) different in flavor from horseradish.

So I'm curious.. how does the taste of the 'fake' product, which seems to be the only thing available over here, differ from the real stuff? What's the situation in Japan? Only real wasabi, or the fake product, and what's the price difference, and are places where you get the real thing held in higher esteem than places that give you the subsitute? Or is it no big deal at all?

many questions... :smile: I'm hoping for some answers...

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Hi Klary

The "real" wasabi, served as a whole, fresh root is definitely regarded as superior. It's sweeter and a little milder than the processed versions, and has a faint aroma.

The various processed wasabi products (powders and pastes) often do (almost invariably do) contain European horseradish plus green food coloring.

Even "pure" tube wasabi contains practically everything about a wasabi field bar the fenceposts. And both powdered and tube wasabi contain horseradish and/or mustard, usually. However, if the aroma is mostly lost when dried, I'm not that worried about getting European horseradish instead of wasabi in tubes, as long as I'm not paying wasabi prices for mustard. :smile: .

Wasabi and products

European horseradish

Armoracia rusticana

Japanese wasabi

wasabia japonica

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Hi Klary

The "real" wasabi, served as a whole, fresh root is definitely regarded as superior. It's sweeter and a little milder than the processed versions, and has a faint aroma.

The various processed wasabi products (powders and pastes) often do (almost invariably do) contain European horseradish plus green food coloring.

Even  "pure" tube wasabi contains practically everything about a wasabi field bar the fenceposts. And both powdered and tube wasabi contain horseradish and/or mustard, usually. However, if the aroma is mostly lost when dried, I'm not that worried about getting European horseradish instead of wasabi in tubes, as long as I'm not paying wasabi prices for mustard. :smile: .

Wasabi and products

European horseradish

Armoracia rusticana

Helen, Thanks.  I've always heard that wasabi was actually horseradish dyed green.  So there really is a "real thing" out there.  Interesting that it is a cruciform veggie.  Those seem to have powerfurl medicinal benefits. 

Japanese wasabi

wasabia japonica

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how does the taste of the 'fake' product, which seems to be the only thing available over here, differ from the real stuff?

For me and for most other Japanese as well, the taste of wasabi is that of fake wasabi. When I first tasted real wasabi in my teens, I wasn't very much fascinated by it. I don't know how to describe real wasabi properly... It's gritty when grated, and it smells and tastes like soil, plus it is pungent, of course.

What's the situation in Japan? Only real wasabi, or the fake product,

As I suggested above, fake products are used in most households and restaurants.

and what's the price difference,

Prices vary according to size and quality.

According to this Rakuten (online shopping site) page

prices range from 280 to 3,350 yen per piece.

and are places where you get the real thing held in higher esteem than places that give you the subsitute? Or is it no big deal at all?

As you can easily imagine from the price range, it's a big deal!

It is interesting to note that the pungent component of wasabi is the same as that of karashi (mustard). The only difference between them is that karashi lacks the fragrant component called "green note".

from the Wasabi edition of the TV program, Mega Ten.

In the program, people were served nigiri zushi with mustard, but none of them noticed it was mustard.

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Real wasabi can be purchased in North America. There are wasabi farms (not sure if that's the right term) in Oregon believe it or not. I think the Northwest has an ideal setting similar to Nagano and Shizuoka in Japan. Because they're so rare and difficult to grow, only high end establishments serve fresh wasabi even in Japan. Flavour is very subtle but that's what most Japanese food is all about isn't it :wink:

I've been to a few Japanese restaurants in New York that tries to "upsell" you to order fresh wasabi. One was at Ono in the Gansevoort Hotel, their wasabi was yellowish and didn't have that nice subtle zing. Other was at Megu in Tribeca... it was also... meh... but what would you expect from two trendy but so so restaurants!! They did however grate it properly with a sharkskin grater.

ahh where's the button for the fries?

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I did quite a bit of translation on wasabi cultivation at one point. Wasabi grows perfectly in a very narrow range of growing conditions, and is very susceptible to soft rot or black rot if conditions are less than optimum...and there are many other diseases which don't directly affect the appearance of the root, but which make it hard to grow a fat root (and after all, the natural inclination of a brassica like wasabi is to grow lots of leaves, not store up energy in its root at a steady rate over 1-3 years).

Although roots with black spots in them are not believed to be harmful to eat, thay are practically unsaleable as fresh root....and if you can't sell them fresh in Japan, it would be very hard to get a commercial return on the huge investment needed to create the right environment.

Come to think of it, premium wasabi has become so strictly controlled that I absolutely cannot recall ever seeing fresh root for sale at any Mom-and-Pop vegetable store, not even when I first came to Japan over 25 years ago.

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Thanks for the replies everybody. It's fascinating!

I started thinking about this because I was talking to a co-worker who makes sushi at home and then uses grated european horseradish instead of wasabi. I asked him if this was the same thing as wasabi and he was absolutely positive that it was. I guess he's both right and not right.. However it still feels a bit wrong to me to use the horseradish pure, and not something wasabi-green..

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Come to think of it, premium wasabi has become so strictly controlled that I absolutely cannot recall ever seeing fresh root for sale at any Mom-and-Pop vegetable store, not even when I first came to Japan over 25 years ago.

Hi Helen,

I recall seeing fresh wasabi root being on sale at a sunday shrine flea market in Kyoto. Can't remember the name of the shrine, its famous for its flea market and is to the west of Kyoto station.

Well....maybe not a mom and pop store, but that was the first time I saw the actual root. Quality wise....not so sure, but it sure looked good!

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Fresh wasabi root is quite widely avaialble in Vancouver's better Japanese restaurants - of which there are quite a few. Often the chef will treat you if it's clear you're serious and are going to stay a while. Another covert signal is to point at a top shelf chilled sake and offer him a pipe. Still another ploy is to say that you are an aquaintance of über-chef Neil Wyles.

Wasabi ranching is being researched at the University of BC farms, and in a contained environment in Agassiz, where coho waste is recycled as fertilizer. I think that it would make a snappy toothpaste flavour.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Jaimemaw, the wasabi served to you in Vancouver restaurants, were they from Japan or OR or Taiwan? I find good wasabi is hard to find... I've bought monster wasabi that looks yellowish when grated sold in Granville Island Market. It wasn't that tasty but better than nothing I guess.

ahh where's the button for the fries?

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Fresh Wasabi root is fundamentally different than European horseradish in taste, heat and texture. It is sweeter, and genereally has less heat. It does not need salt and vinegar to bring out the heat. The heat can vary in the root with the outer parts having more heat.

We purchase fresh root at Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights Illinois on a regular basis. A ceramic grater works fine. The root product of course varies being a fresh commodity. Some have little heat and taste, some are extremely flavorful with mild almost crunchy texture and some have good taste and real good heat. It just depends on the root and freshness, I presume.

There is no substitute. the green power is just that, horseradish powder colored green.

The best non fresh product comes in little packets at Mitsuwa which can be frozen. It is kept refrigerated and is very good and is my choice if fresh is not available. -Dick

Edited by budrichard (log)
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