James Martin visits Wasabi Crop

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In the summer of 2019, James Martin and Paul Rankin came over the water to Northern Ireland to make a film for James Martin’s Islands to Highlands.  The aim was to find and create 80 fantastic recipes from around the British Isles and to explore places such as the kelp from Rathlin Island and some of the best Wasabi in the world produced at Wasabi Crop in County Armagh. They also explored the area around the biggest freshwater lake in the British Isles called Lough Neagh.

James and Paul arrived at Wasabi Crop and discovered real Wasabi being cultivated in County Armagh – a rarity outside of Japan.  James then used fresh wasabi rhizome to prepare a salmon dish dressed with freshly grated Wasabi overlooking the dramatic backdrop of Slieve Gullion – the highest point in Armagh.

Wasabi mountain salmon

  1. Heat the vegetable oil for the spring onions in a deep-fat fryer to 180°C/350°F until a breadcrumb sizzles and turns brown when dropped into it.
  2. Line a large plate with kitchen paper.
  3. While the oil is heating up, prepare the dressing.
  4. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and mix together
  5. Set aside.
  6. Whisk together the cornflour and sparkling water in a large bowl.
  7. To prepare the spring onions, carefully slice each one from the root to the top 6 times, ensuring you keep the root-end intact.

For the Deep-Fried Spring Onions

1-2 Litres vegetable oil, for frying

100 g cornflour

125 ml of sparkling water

6 large spring onions, whites only, roots attached

8. Dip each one into the batter and fry in batches for 30 seconds until crisp.

9. Lift out with a slotted spoon to drain on the kitchen paper.

10. Lay the salmon slices over a large platter.

400 g fresh salmon fillet, skinned and thinly sliced

50 ml of sesame oil

11. In a small pan heat the sesame oil until hot and almost smoking

12. Then spoon it over the salmon, followed by the dressing.

Wasabi Dressing

1 Teaspoon fresh grated wasabi

1 Teaspoon yuzu juice

50 ml dark soy sauce

Juice of lime

13. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds, then top with deep-fried spring onions and micro herbs.

To serve

1 Teaspoon mixed white and black sesame seeds, toasted

1 Tablespoon mixed micro herbs (such as red amaranth, mizuna, micro coriander and red shiso)

Serves 4-6

James Martin discovers real wasabi in County Armagh

Fresh wasabi rhizomes

James Martin discovered that real Wasabi was expensive and rare and took over two years to grow.  To his amazement, he found that there were only a small number of wasabi growers outside Japan.  Today, Wasabi Crop run by Sean Kitson and his son Zak produce fresh Wasabi rhizomes in County Armagh and according to James Martin, it was fantastic stuff. He encourages people to buy some before it runs out!

James Martin and Paul Rankin talking to Sean Kitson about growing wasabi.

Since visiting Wasabi Crop James is now a new-found fan of Wasabi. He also found out that the key to fresh Wasabi is to let it air for about 5 minutes before using the grated wasabi paste. He also recommended using grated Wasabi on fresh salmon because the hot-oil dressing lightly cooks this dish (Wasabi mountain salmon).

James Martin’s wasabi experience

Proper Japanese wasabi is very expensive – one stalk can be £90 – and it’s very difficult to grow as the roots are mainly grown out of the ground so it can take over two years,’’ says James.

But here’s this 17-year-old lad and his dad growing it.

I’d never seen it grown, now I’m a fan. I wasn’t into horseradish but this stuff is amazing, and I created a wasabi salmon recipe around it.

As a pig farmer’s kid, I’ve always said that to fully understand food, you’ve got to understand how hard it is to produce.

Mail Online

Why not read James Martin’s Islands to Highlands: 80 Fantastic Recipes from around the British Isles.

Enjoy cooking with fresh Wasabi!

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