Wasabi is Japanese Horseradish (Wasabia Japonica). Wasabi Japanese Horseradish is a member of the Brassica family. It is the root of Wasabia Japonica that is used. When finely grated, Japanese Horseradish makes a strongly flavoured spice. The leaves of the plant may also be eaten, and can add a little bit of the Wasabi flavour to salads.
Fresh Wasabi Japanese Horseradish has a very short shelf life and can be expensive and difficult to find but is available in tubes as a green paste and also in a white powdered form, which when water is added, will form a paste with the familiar bright green wasabi colour. Some commercial pastes contain a mixture of Japanese Horseradish and Western Horseradish and even Mustard to try to keep down the cost but the taste is not as good as the freshly grated variety.
There are many health benefits of Wasabi though it has a strong pungent flavour which affects the nose much more than the mouth, unlike Chillis, and the effect is much more short lived. Wasabi is served as a condiment with Sashimi and Sushi and frequently comes with a small dish of Soy Sauce. Add the wasabi to the soy sauce and use as a dip. This dipping sauce is known as Wasabi Joyu. Wasabi has become very popular recently and is used in many recipes throughout the World.
Many health claims have been made for Wasabi including fighting off oral infections and attacking some cancer cells but these have not been proven scientifically as yet, although Isothiocyanates which are what gives wasabi its particular strong flavour have been proven to inhibit the growth of Bacteria.
Self Magazine listed some of the nutritious benefits of eating sushi:
- “Improve your immunity.” The seaweed in rolls called nori is high in vitamin C.
- “Whittle your waist.” Ask for brown rice to get 3x the fiber and to stay full longer.
- “Treat your ticker.” Eat rolls with wild salmon for heart-healthy omega-3s and a low dose of mercury.
- “Curb cancer.” Research shows ginger may encourage ovarion cancer cells to “self destruct.”
- “Aid your smile.” The chemicals (isothiocyanates) that make wasabi hot can actually kill germs that cause tooth decay.