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Editor’s Notes

Hello from the Pocket Concierge Editorial!
Wasabi is an acquired taste, a condiment difficult to appreciate without experience. However, as connoisseurs may know, it plays a critical role in Japanese cuisine that deepens and elevates flavors to the sublime. Today, we will delve into the different types of wasabi and how they match with different ingredients and dishes. Now, without further ado, let’s go discover the mysteries of wasabi.

Contents

1. Hon-Wasabi? Nama-Wasabi? What’s the Difference?

2. Expensive Wasabi isn’t Spicy?! Unusual Ways of Enjoying Wasabi

3. Sans Sushi! Other Wasabi Mariages that You Never Knew

1. Hon-Wasabi? Nama-Wasabi? What’s the Difference?


Takuzushi|Pocket Concierge

“Wasabi” is sold at most supermarkets at Japanese supermarkets in a tube. You might notice that there are different names for wasabi, such as “honwasabi” and “namawasabi.”
The differences is because of the differences in the wasabi that is the main ingredient of the product.
Honwasabi is a plant of Brassicaceae Wasabia that is native to Japan. Wasabi that is named “honwasabi” or “includes honwasabi” uses this as a main ingredient. There are two kinds of honwasabi: “water wasabi” that is grown in spring water and streams in mountainous areas and farm-grown wasabi grown in fields that is damp and cool. Water wasabi can only be produced at limited areas in Japan. If you see a whole wasabi before it‘s grated, that would be honwasabi.

In contrast, western wasabi that is native to Europe is often used as a main ingredient of processed wasabi packed in tubes. This is a completely different plant of Brassicaceae Tomoshirisou genus. In Japan, it is mainly grown in Hokkaido and a lot of it is also imported from China. It has a whitish color and is also called horseradish.

There are also two kinds of wasabi in tubes: “Honwasabi” and raw, or “Namawasabi.” In this case, the “honwasabi” tube type wasabi tends to be more expensive. The Wasabi Association stipulates a rule that wasabi in tubes that contains over 50% of honwasabi can display “uses honwasabi” in the packaging and “includes honwasabi” for wasabi in tubes that use honwasabi under 50%.

2. Expensive Wasabi isn’t Spicy?! Unusual Ways of Enjoying Wasabi


Sushi Wasabi|Pocket Concierge

You might not like the unique, pungent flavor of wasabi.
Some say that expensive wasabi is not hot or wasabi that’s grated a certain way is not hot. This made me research different ways to enjoy wasabi by suppressing the pungent flavor and also increasing the pungent flavor.
When you compare honwasabi and Western wasabi using the category introduced above, honwasabi is less pungent and has a stronger flavor and fragrance. Tube type wasabi with more honwasabi is more expensive, so it seems that the rumor that “Expensive wasabi is not as hot” is true.

So how do you grate raw, honwasabi by yourself?
As for the part of raw wasabi, the pungent flavor will decrease the closer the part is to the stem, but the wasabi flavor and fragrance will increase. If you don’t like the pungent flavor it’ll be better to use the stem and other parts close to it. Wasabi is also said to become hot the more you grate it finely. If you want to suppress the pungent flavor when pairing it with dishes like dishes using meat, you can coarsely grate it or finely chop it without using a grater. There are also “finely chopped” wasabi in tubes that have been recently sold.

Wasabi with a pungent flavor pairs great with sashimi. There’s a famous saying “Grate wasabi as you laugh.” If you like hot wasabi, try to use a fine grater and carefully and finely grate it without using much strength. It’s also best to grate it right before you eat it since wasabi that’s just been grated has a stronger pungent flavor. The pungent flavor will come back if you hit it lightly with the back of a kitchen knife if some time has passed after it has been grated. Some restaurants put a tiny amount of sugar on the wasabi before grating it to increase the hot flavor, which is quite unexpected. If you like hot wasabi, please try this tip.

3. Sans Sushi! Other Wasabi Mariages that You Never Knew


Teppanyaki Iwakura|Pocket Concierge

Wasabi is often paired with dishes using fish like sashimi and sushi in Japan. Western wasabi also pairs great with dishes using meat. For example, it’s often used as a condiment for roast beef.
I looked up some ways that’s not widely known to enjoy wasabi even more.

The first is a recipe that pairs wasabi with pasta. You can add wasabi at the very end when you cook pasta using seafood or add wasabi as a secret ingredient to a pasta sauce with a strong taste, spicing up the flavor worthy for adults.

Cheese also pairs well with wasabi. Mix cream cheese with wasabi and make a dip for vegetable sticks. You can also create a unique appetizer by drizzling olive oil on Camembert cheese and topping it with wasabi which will also pair great with wine.

Wasabi is thought to be used only for Japanese dishes but it actually pairs great with Western dishes. The flavors will change depending on the type of wasabi or how you grate it so enjoy it using the different types of wasabi for the specific purpose you want.


Gion Sushi Tadayasu|Pocket Concierge

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