Wasabi is an interesting spice that is known and enjoyed by many people. When you see it on a sushi menu, you know you’re in for a bit of a spicy kick!
However, not everyone knows how to eat wasabi like a pro. Some people avoid it altogether, while others try to eat it all in one bite. If you’re someone who is interested in understanding wasabi, and wants to enjoy it the right way, you’ve come to the right place!
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi is a plant that has a potent spicy flavor that lingers in the mouth. The root of the wasabi plant is what is used to make the condiment that is so popular among sushi lovers.
Wasabi is one of the most expensive spices in the world due to its scarcity and the difficulty involved in growing it. The demand for wasabi is quite significant, and it is used in many different dishes across the globe.
What Makes Wasabi So Spicy?
Wasabi’s pungent, spicy flavor comes from the compounds it contains. Specifically, wasabi contains allyl isothiocyanate, which is a volatile compound that clings to the nasal passages and mucus membranes, making it spicy.
The spiciness of wasabi is different from that of chilies or other peppers; the former is perceived more as a “hot” sensation, while the latter is more of a “burning” feeling. Because wasabi’s spiciness is more of a “hot” sensation, it can feel more intense to those unaccustomed to its heat.
What are the Benefits of Eating Wasabi?
There are many benefits that come with eating wasabi, including:
- Improved heart health: Wasabi contains antioxidants that can help to keep your heart healthy and improve its function.
- Cancer-fighting properties: The same antioxidants that help with heart health can also help to fight cancer cells.
- Boosted immune system: Wasabi contains Vitamin C, which is essential for keeping your immune system healthy and strong.
How to Eat Wasabi like a Pro?
1. Start Slowly
If you’ve never eaten wasabi before, it’s a good idea to start slow. Use a small amount and add more as you get used to the heat.
It’s essential to note that wasabi can be quite potent; therefore, you’ll want to use it sparingly until you get used to its flavor and intensity.
2. Pair with Sushi
The traditional way to eat wasabi is with sushi or sashimi. You’ll want to use a small amount of wasabi and mix it with soy sauce to dip your sushi or sashimi.
The wasabi-soy sauce combination is the perfect dip for sushi; it provides a flavorful contrast to the fish and rice.
3. Try it with Meat
Although wasabi is often associated with sushi or sashimi, it is delicious with other dishes as well.
Try using it as a marinade or seasoning for steak, chicken, or fish. It works especially well with fattier meats that benefit from the spice’s pep and kick.
4. Mix it with Mayo or Cream Cheese
Wasabi in small amounts can add depth and flavor to mayonnaise or cream cheese; it’s ideal for those who want a milder, less intense flavor.
The combination of wasabi and mayonnaise or cream cheese can be delicious as a dip or spread for crackers, chips, or vegetables.
5. Use Fresh Wasabi
If you want the most authentic wasabi experience, try to use fresh wasabi instead of the powdered version that is commonly found in stores.
Fresh wasabi has a more well-rounded and subtle flavor than the powdered version that can be overpowering in large quantities.
How to Prepare Fresh Wasabi?
Preparing fresh wasabi can be challenging as it is in raw state and has a distinct flavor that needs to be tamed down. Here are some tips to help you prepare it like a pro:
1. Peel the wasabi root
Peel the skin of the wasabi root, which is a bulbous structure that grows underground. After it has been peeled, use a grater or microplane to grate the wasabi root.
It’s important to note that a sharp and wide grater or microplane works best because it produces thin shreds that bring out the wasabi’s flavor.
2. Serve Fresh
As with all fresh produce, fresh wasabi should be prepared just before serving. As soon as wasabi comes into contact with air, it starts losing its flavor and heat.
If you must prepare fresh wasabi in advance, store it in an airtight container and refrigerate it until you need it.
3. Make a Paste
To make the wasabi paste, mix the grated wasabi with a small amount of water. Then leave it to sit for about five minutes, which helps the chemical compounds present in the wasabi root to develop the familiar hot taste.
It’s essential to know that the longer you wait, the more intense the taste becomes.
Where to Buy Wasabi?
Wasabi can be a little hard to find, mainly if you’re looking for a fresh root. If you don’t have access to fresh wasabi, you can still buy wasabi powder or wasabi paste.
You can find wasabi powder or wasabi paste in most grocery stores, specialty food stores or online shopping sites.
Wasabi is a unique and flavorful condiment that can add depth and heat to any dish. Whether you’re using it as a dip or seasoning, learning how to eat wasabi like a pro can enhance your culinary experiences.
Although wasabi can be a little intimidating to those unaccustomed to its heat, with proper handling and guidance, anyone can enjoy its intense flavorfulness.
Common Questions and Answers
- What does wasabi taste like?
- Is wasabi good for you?
- What dishes is wasabi best served with?
- Where can I buy fresh wasabi?
- What is the difference between wasabi paste and powder?
Wasabi has a pungent and spicy flavor that lingers in the mouth. When used in small quantities, it has a subtle sweetness that offers a perfect complement to sushi or sashimi.
Yes. Wasabi has various health benefits, including fighting cancer cells, improving heart health, and boosting the immune system.
Wasabi is best served with sushi, sashimi, or meat. It works well with fatty meats that benefit from the heat and flavor it offers.
Fresh wasabi can be a little challenging to find, but some specialty food stores or online shopping sites may have them in stock.
Wasabi powder is a dried and powdered form of the wasabi root, whereas wasabi paste is made by mixing the powder with water. However, these two are not the same as fresh wasabi, which is often known as “hon-wasabi.”
Aloha wasabi. Retrieved from https://www.hawaiimagazine.com/aloha-wasabi
Wasabi health benefits. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/wasabi-health-benefits
What is wasabi?. Retrieved from https://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00119/what-is-wasabi.html