Fresh Wasabi Root
This little root takes two years of careful nurture to mature and is therefore one of the most prized vegetables available. The flavour of fresh wasabi is reminiscent of asparagus or artichoke hearts with a clean heat that makes it sing and will light up your sinuses. Completely different to ready processed wasabi, which is often either a died substitute or contains very small amounts of real wasabi, fresh wasabi is a member of the brassica family and has a more complex flavour that will leave you reeling. Enjoy with sushi and fish, but also try in dressings, noodle dishes, with wagyu steak or mashed potatoes, or even with oysters.
Wasabi has been around for a very long time. In fact, there is archaeological evidence of the Japanese eating wasabi as early as 14000BC. With such a lengthy heritage, the little root has stood the test of time, and with good reason. It has been a stalwart of Japanese cuisine, in part due to its medicinal properties that help counteract the effect of food poisoning – very useful when a large part of the national diet consists of raw fish.
Store in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth or muslin and keep covered but not sealed. Every few days run the wasabi under cold water and re-moisten the cloth covering. In this way wasabi root will keep for two weeks. Alternatively, freeze freshly grated wasabi immediately.
Wasabi’s flavour is dependent on a chemical reaction so it’s important to prepare it correctly. Remove the stems and use a specialist grater. Move in a circular motion to fully release the flavours. A Parmesan grater or very fine microplane will work nearly as well. Use a brush to remove all the wasabi from the teeth. Once grated, gather into a small ball to reduce oxidisation surface area. After five minutes the flavour will be optimal but will begin to deteriorate after 15-20 minutes so grate only as much as you need.