Everything you need to know about Fresh Wasabi

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At Wasabi Crop, we ensure that each wasabi rhizome, known as wasabi root, is trimmed and fresh. Once we receive an order, we harvest the rhizomes and vacuum pack them for freshness.  When you receive your wasabi rhizome, please remove it from the vacuum packaging and rinse it well under cold running water.  Next, wrap the rhizome in a damp cheesecloth (provided with your order) and store it in the refrigerator until ready to use it.

Fresh wasabi rhizomes, a grater, and a brush resting on lush wasabi leaves, ready for preparation.

Artisanal Elegance: Fresh Wasabi Rhizomes (85 g portion) on Lush Leaves, Paired with a Traditional Grater and Brush on a Cheesecloth Canvas.

Place the rhizome in an open glass container in the fridge for optimal storage.  This allows for proper air circulation, which is crucial for maintaining the rhizome’s freshness.  Remember to moisten the cheesecloth and rewrap the rhizome every 2-3 days to keep it in peak condition.

When ready to use your wasabi, grate the rhizome with a stainless steel grater available at the Wasabi Crop Shop.  Alternatively, you might use the highly regarded Japanese sharkskin grater if you’re fortunate.  Additionally, a micro-grater or even the finer section of a regular cheese grater can effectively produce a delightful wasabi paste.  This method releases the unique ‘wasabi kick’ – a fresh, pungent (spicy), and zingy flavour – by breaking down the cell walls of the rhizome.

Properly cared for, the fresh wasabi rhizome can last up to 4 weeks.  However, to enjoy its full, vibrant flavour, we recommend using it as soon as possible after receipt.

Maximising Flavour: The Art of Grating and Timing Fresh Wasabi

Grating fresh wasabi properly involves a few critical steps to maximise its flavour and potency/spiciness.  Once you grate the wasabi rhizome, it’s essential to let the paste sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes.  This resting period allows the flavours to develop fully as the enzymes react to air exposure, enhancing the wasabi’s characteristic pungent and spicy qualities.  However, the potency of wasabi paste peaks shortly after this process and begins to diminish; therefore, it’s best used within 20 minutes of grating.  Using the wasabi paste promptly ensures you experience the full, vibrant flavour and heat that freshly grated wasabi is renowned for.  This timing is crucial for enjoying the authentic taste of wasabi in your dishes.

The Exquisite World of Wasabi

Dubbed the ‘King of Herbs and Spices,’ wasabi is a culinary treasure that brings a unique flavour and a striking pale green hue to dishes, making it a staple in Japanese cuisine.  Unlike other spicy ingredients, wasabi offers a hot yet refreshing aftertaste, a quality that has endeared it to food lovers.  Its cultivation, a tradition in Japan that spans over a millennium, reflects the deep cultural significance and artistry in its use.  As a member of the Brassicaceae family, alongside vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and horseradish, wasabi stands out for its distinctive heat that vanishes quickly, leaving behind a sweet and mild vegetable flavour without any lingering burn or discomfort.

Wasabi’s aesthetic and culinary appeal enhance various dishes, contributing to its popularity in Japan and its burgeoning presence in Western cuisine.  This remarkable herb/spice transforms ordinary meals into extraordinary culinary experiences with its singular flavour and enticing taste.

Key Features of Wasabi

  • Royal Heritage: Cultivated in County Armagh, wasabi rhizomes take two years to mature and are renowned as the ‘King of Herbs and Spices.’
  • Unique Taste: Offering a vibrant flavour with a revitalising kick, wasabi provides a crisp heat that refreshes the palate.
  • Culinary Versatility: Wasabi is essential in Japanese cuisine for sushi and sashimi. It also enriches noodle dishes, steak gremolata, mashed potatoes with wasabi mayonnaise, deviled eggs, and glazed salmon.
  • Authenticity: Many products marketed as “wasabi” often contain minimal or no real Wasabi, relying instead on substitutes like horseradish and green food colouring to mimic the taste and appearance of genuine wasabi.  For example:

Wasabi Peas: Typically, these are dried peas coated with a mixture of horseradish, mustard flour, and green colouring rather than real wasabi.

  • Freshness on Demand: Grating the wasabi rhizome releases its peppery essence, ensuring peak freshness and flavour.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Rich in vitamins and minerals, the wasabi rhizome is a wholesome, root-to-stem superfood.
  • Discovering Real Wasabi: Many have only experienced fake wasabi, missing out on the genuine article—a fresh, nuanced flavour far removed from the coloured horseradish often served.
  • Rarity and Cultivation Challenges: Wasabi requires specific conditions to thrive, making genuine wasabi a rare and prized find due to its perishability and the care it demands.

Important Advisory on Wasabi Crop Products

At Wasabi Crop, we are committed to providing the most current and accurate information about our wasabi rhizomes and related products.  We understand the importance of health and nutrition and strive to ensure all our customers are well-informed.

Please note that the information available on the Wasabi Crop website (https:wasabicrop.co.uk) regarding our products’ nutritional and medicinal benefits is only for general informational purposes.  It should not be used as a diagnostic tool or replace professional medical advice or treatment for any health condition or disease.

Consumers using products containing wasabi (including wasabi rhizomes, flowers, leaves, and stems) are strongly advised to consult with healthcare professionals regarding any health-related concerns or before making decisions that could affect their health.

Additionally, it is important to note that no regulatory authorities have assessed the claims about the dietary supplements provided by Wasabi Crop.  Therefore, these products are not approved for diagnosing, treating, curing, or preventing any disease or health condition.

We urge all our customers to exercise caution and seek professional guidance when considering the health benefits of our products.

Despite wasabi’s long history of consumption in Japan, spanning over a millennium, the scientific community still lacks comprehensive data regarding its potential side effects.  This gap in knowledge means that, as of now, the safety profile and side effects associated with wasabi consumption remain largely undefined.

A Historical Perspective on Wasabi

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica Matsum, also known as Eutrema wasabia M.) holds the prestigious title of ‘King of Herbs and Spices’ and is native exclusively to Japan.  Its historical significance is captured in the Honzowamyo, a comprehensive collection of 18 volumes cataloguing 1,025 types of plants, animals, and minerals.  Authored by Fukane Sukehito in 918 during the Heian period (794-1185), the encyclopedia identifies wasabi as a medicinal plant, then known as wild ginger, underscoring its long-standing cultivation in Japan for over a thousand years.

The peak of wasabi cultivation shifted to the Abe River in Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan, during the Keicho period (1596-1615).  Initially, wasabi was a luxury consumed exclusively by the Japanese elite, including the shogunate under Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616).  Wasabi’s distribution spanned from Sakhalin Island in the North Pacific Ocean to Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost region.  It extended south to Kyushu, with Shimane prefecture emerging as the leading producer of genuine wasabi.

wasabi cultivation in Japan

Verdant Beginnings: The Pristine Waters of Abe River Cradle the Heart of Wasabi Cultivation in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Internationally, wasabi cultivation has expanded beyond Japan to countries including New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, Israel, Brazil, Thailand, Colombia, Canada, the USA, England, and notably, Wasabi Crop in Northern Ireland.  As a member of the Brassicaceae family, wasabi shares botanical kinship with vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, horseradish, and black mustard seeds.

The wasabi plant undergoes a two-year growth cycle culminating in the development of a swollen stem or rhizome, which supports several petioles bearing deep green, heart-shaped leaves known for their sharp taste.  Presently, Japan is renowned for cultivating several varieties of wasabi rhizomes, including Midori, Sanpoo, Takai, Shimane, Izawa, Medeka, Mazuma, and Daruma, primarily produced in the Shizuoka and Shimane prefectures, along with Nagano.  Additionally, Hangen wasabi is cultivated in Kanagawa Prefecture, illustrating the plant’s diverse range and enduring cultural and culinary importance.

Understanding the Black Layer on Wasabi Rhizomes

The formation of a black layer on the outer surface of a wasabi rhizome is a natural result of oxidation.  It serves as a protective barrier that preserves the flavour without compromising quality.  This black layer is edible, but it is recommended to remove it before grating to experience the full, fresh taste of wasabi.  On the other hand, a rhizome showing a white or grey colour might indicate it is not fresh and could have an unpleasant smell.  The rhizome is still suitable for use if there’s no bad odour.  Simple kitchen tools like a knife or potato peeler effectively remove the black layer and prepare the rhizome for grating.

Japanese Cuisine with Fresh Wasabi

Embrace the vibrant taste of Japanese cuisine by incorporating freshly grated wasabi into a more comprehensive array of dishes.  Traditionally, wasabi is synonymous with sushi, sashimi, and soba noodles, but Wasabi Crop is trying to broaden this perception.  We aim to inspire our customers to explore the rich flavours of natural, fresh wasabi in their culinary creations, bringing innovative twists to everyday meals.

Imagine enhancing your pasta, chicken, tofu, and speciality sauces with the distinctive zing of freshly grated wasabi.  Envision elevating your roasted legumes, fish, and rice dishes with a touch of this unique herb.  Even a pinch of wasabi can transform an ordinary sandwich into an extraordinary gastronomic experience.

The possibilities extend even further for culinary adventurers—consider wasabi-infused ice cream, chocolate, or your favourite beverages.  Despite its close relation to horseradish, authentic, fresh wasabi, thriving beside highland mountain streams in Japan, remains a rare delight for many.  Its cultivation is a labour of love, requiring nearly two years to reach maturity and resulting in its premium status.  Explore the depth and versatility of wasabi and discover a new dimension to your cooking repertoire.


Wasabi is more than just a condiment; it’s a culinary gem that offers a unique, refreshing heat, making it ideal for innovative dishes beyond traditional Japanese cuisine.  Our goal at Wasabi Crop is to inspire you to incorporate fresh wasabi into a variety of dishes, from pasta and salads to marinades for meats and fish. 

Cultivated in the temperate climate of Northern Ireland under specific conditions that mimic its native habitat in Japan’s mountain streams, our wasabi thrives in cool, shaded environments.  We invite you to explore the versatility, health benefits, and rich history of wasabi, whether you’re a professional chef or a home cook eager to enhance your culinary creations with its distinct flavour and regal presence.  Join us on a journey to discover wasabi’s transformative power in traditional and contemporary dishes.

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