Some sachets contain just 0.6% wasabi plant
There’s a good chance you’ve never eaten actual wasabi at all – even if you’re a sushi addict.
That green paste that you’re smearing on your sashimi is most likely just a mixture of water, mashed horseradish and a dash of colouring – with just a trace amount of the actual plant.
One high-street chain said its sachets of wasabi contain just 0.6% Wasabia Japonica plant, which the traditional paste is made from.
While it may be surprising, it’s not hard to understand why: the Wasabia Japonica plant is widely regarded to be one of the hardest to grow.
It requires lukewarm spring water, a specific amount of light and shade, and 18 months in the ground for perfect growth.
It also very rapidly loses its flavour once it has been grated, and is best served within five minutes.
That’s why high-end chefs usually layer it up between rice and fish, to stop it from losing its pungency.
In Japan, the flavour is released by grinding the plant’s stem – not the root – on a shark-skin grater, to release the complex sweet and spicy flavour.
A spokesman for Itsu told The Independent that its sachets of wasabi contain just 0.6% wasabi plant, with horseradish making up a fifth of the concoction.
They argued that freshly grated wasabi begins to lose its heat and flavour after five minutes.
Itsu aren’t the only ones doing this, which led food website Foodbeast to conclude that unless you’ve tucked into traditional Japanese cuising while in Japan, “you’ve probably never had actual wasabi”.
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