FRESH WASABI VIRGINS
Most people have not seen fresh wasabi before and like to hear it is native to Japan and grows alongside cool mountain streams in the shade of Cedar trees. No relation of horseradish, the rhizome is a swollen stem and grows above ground. Pastes and powders sold in shops contain no real wasabi; they are made from horseradish, mustard, sweeteners & colorings.
Keep it fresh
Store rhizomes in the fridge, rinse daily and wrap in muslin to keep them moist. Or store in a bowl of water in the fridge, without the muslin.
To peel or not to peel?
Japanese masters usually do but it’s not absolutely necessary. A thicker paste will be produced without peeling. Remove the stems and begin grating from this end where the wasabi is sweetest.
Choose your weapon
Shark skin is the traditional tool and produces the finest paste. They can become blunt so replace when necessary to keep grating easy and speedy. Aluminium and ceramic graters work well too but must have fine teeth.
Grating breaks down individual cell walls so the enzyme inside the wall mixes with the magic inside the cell to produce the flavor compounds and sinus tingling heat. Move the rhizome in a circular motion to mix the paste while you grate.
The chemical reaction gives rise to pungent heat and a rich, aromatic flavor. Sucrose is a by-product of the reaction bringing a natural sweetness.
3 minute pause, 15 minute window
Let the paste rest for 3mins while the reaction reaches its peak. The flavor and heat will stay strong for 15mins.
Super healthy Samurais
Wasabi is the oldest super food, a medicine from the 10th. century. Such was their value wasabi plantations were traditionally gifted to retiring Samurai warriors to thank them for their loyal service.
The Wasabi Company grow wasabi in natural spring water in Dorset & Hampshire. They use traditional Japanese cultivation techniques to ensure the highest quality crop. The only growers of fresh wasabi in Europe.