Germination: sow 1/8" deep, mulch the seed bed, keep moist
Experience the unique flavor and pungency of Wasabia japonica, also known as Japanese horseradish or wasabi. This plant, belonging to the Brassicaceae family, is native to Japan and grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys. Known for its extremely strong pungency, wasabi has a flavor more akin to hot mustard than chili peppers, producing vapors that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue.
The stem of the wasabi plant is used as a condiment and is commonly grated before use. It contains the volatile allyl isothiocyanate, which is responsible for its initial pungency. This compound is also found in horseradish and mustard, making them similar in taste and pungency.
Due to its high cost and difficulty in cultivation, real wasabi can be hard to find outside of Japan. Often, a common substitute mixture of horseradish, mustard, starch, and green food coloring is labeled as wasabi, even though it does not contain the actual plant. True wasabi is naturally green, unlike horseradish.
In addition to its culinary uses, wasabi has been studied for its potential to inhibit microbe growth, preserving food and suppressing oral bacterial growth. The burning sensations of wasabi are short-lived compared to chili peppers and are primarily felt in the nasal passage.
Cultivating wasabi is challenging and requires specific, ideal conditions. In Japan, it is mainly cultivated in regions such as the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka prefecture, Nagano prefecture including the Daio Wasabi Farm, and Iwate prefecture. Outside of Japan, a handful of companies and small farmers cultivate Wasabia japonica in North America.
Experience the unique flavor and pungency of real wasabi and discover why it is highly regarded in Japanese cuisine.