What Makes Wasabi an Integral Part of Japanese Cuisine?

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Japanese cuisine is incomplete without wasabi. It is the taste of the wasabi, either in the form of a powder or a green paste, which enhances flavors of everyday treats.

Wasabi belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard, horseradish, and cabbage. In fact, horseradish is often used a wasabi substitute, though it is a different plant. Its flavor is hot and strong, which dissipates within seconds without leaving a burning aftertaste. Because it is not oil-based, it has short-lived burning sensation compared to chili peppers.

Wasabi powders and pastes are common in the supermarkets. However, beware of those products only contain chemicals with a very little amount of wasabi in it.  In fact, it is mostly horseradish, green food coloring and Chinese mustard instead of wasabi. This is primarily because cultivating wasabi is a difficult and expensive process.

Wasabi Properties & Facts

Wasabi is widely celebrated for its culinary uses. It also has potential medicinal properties. Scientists hold that wasabi contains isothiocyanates, typically 6-methylsulfinylhexyl isothiocyanate that alleviates symptoms of asthma, allergies, inflammation, neurodegenerative disease, and some cancers.

Wasabi flavor is highly affected but the way it is used. Traditionally, it is grated with a sharkskin grater called oroshi, which resembled fine sandpaper. When this grater is used, the heat and flavor dissipate quickly.

Wasabi is predominantly used as a green paste condiment for sashimi and sushi; it is also added to a large number of Japanese dishes and food products. It has a strong flavor and pungent odor, which makes it popular in Japan.  

Wasabi Health Benefits

Wasabi has potential antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-platelet properties. It also contains generous amounts of calcium, potassium, and vitamin C. However, it does not qualify for a significant source of nutrient because it is used only in small amounts, in the form of condiments.

Before buying wasabi from the local store, make sure you get the real deal. Only authentic wasabi delivers health benefits, which is difficult to find.  

Common Uses of Wasabi

Wasabi is the most common accompaniment to sushi. However, the first thought that strikes when someone refers to wasabi is coated green peas. Surprisingly, it is the most favorite snack of all times that makes everyone freeze for moments as the characteristic pungent flavor stings through the nasal passage and brings to the eyes. Wasabi is incredibly potent and quite nasty as well.

When it comes to Japanese condiments, wasabi adds flavor to an otherwise bland dish. Dip it in soy sauce and enjoy the experience with sashimi or sushi. Folklore holds that the samurais used to make pickled vegetables and flavoring agents out of wasabi for fish dishes. Modern chefs now use this ingredient to spruce up various dishes such as deviled eggs, chicken tikkas, mashed potatoes, fritters, tempuras, mayonnaise, vinaigrette, and herb crusted fish.

Wasabi is a prized stem. It is a privilege to find pure and fresh wasabi in the vegetable markets of Japan. It takes more than two years to cultivate this plant abundantly, which is why it is so expensive. The art of cultivating rich wasabi is a closely guarded secret.  


Tags: Japanese Cuisine Wasabi Japanese Condiments Sushi Sashimi Japanese Takeaway
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