Updated: April 17, 2018
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Real Wasabi - You've Probably Never Had It

Wasabi you've been mixing in your soy sauce as a sushi dipping sauce is more than likely fake wasabi. To know more about the real Japanese one, it's taste, how to prepare it, and where to buy it, read this article!

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Real Wasabi - You've Probably Never Had It

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This may come as a surprise to you but what you've been having with your sushi is not actually true wasabi. The pungent green Japanese condiment comes from the root of the "Wasabia japonica" shown above. It grows naturally along the cool and clear mountain streams of Japan.

So What Is Fake Wasabi?

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The fake wasabi you've been having is grated horseradish with a mixture of mustard seeds. Notice how white it is? Mustard seeds are yellow as you've probably guessed or already know, so the green color of the so-called wasabi that is widely consumed outside of Japan comes from the addition of food coloring. Taste-wise, fake wasabi has a stronger pungency and not as fresh of a taste. The real wasabi tastes much more herbal. However, It has to be fresh for it to taste good.

How To Make It And What To Eat It With

In Japan, there is a type of grater called wasabi-oroshi that is made specifically for grating the honwasabi.
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Simply grate the root in a circular motion until you get your desired amount. People don't grate it all at once as it preserves much better ungrated.
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You can obviously eat sushi with honwasabi, but because the taste is not as overpowering as mustard seeds and horseradish, it also goes well with a variety of dishes. Putting some real wasabi in a soba noodle dipping sauce is a classic. It also adds an herbal taste that balances well with the soy-based sauce.

Where To Buy It

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If you live in Japan, you can buy it at fruit and vegetable stores or some supermarkets. It is a relatively rare item so the cost is about ¥1,000 for a 100g root. A lot of the wasabi consumed in Japan is the fake one too for that reason.
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If you are living outside of Japan and would like to buy some of that beautiful green root, if you're lucky you may be able to get some at some Japanese specialty store, but your best bet is probably online.
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Try a search on Amazon for "hon wasabi" and you should have plenty of products that are sold in paste form. An online store called Harajuku Culture JAPAN, based in Tokyo, sells tubes of 43g for about $20 (US), including shipping costs. Wasabi graters are also sold by some major online retailers.

Lastly...

If you are in Japan, or ever come to Japan on a trip, make sure to try hon wasabi with at a nice soba shop! Also, try it on a condiment with various dishes if you buy some. It can be used as an ingredient for salad dressings.
tabikamome
Japanese food culture enthusiast. Love to explore new areas and discover local specialties.

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