Thursday, January 13, 2011

Wasabi: worth its weight in gold?





I like to just meander in Marukai to see what they're bringing in from Japan that's mezurashii (interesting) or hisashiburi (nostalgic) for me. I usually don't look at produce, but this huge sign caught my eye. What could be worth $102.79 in the produce section?

Wasabi is a Japanese horseradish root, green in color and put in sushi. The mass market version comes in a green tube and comes out like paste, but since wasabi is so expensive, sometimes the wasabi is made with a mixture of horseradish, mustard and food coloring.
In sushi, the wasabi paste is put between the rice and the fish because once the paste is prepared, it needs to be covered to preserve the flavor or it will lose potency in about 15 minutes. It you go to a high class sushi place that uses fresh wasabi, they will grind it with a fine grater and mix it with water to make the paste. It's usually mixed with shoyu (wasabi joyu) and used to dip sushi or sashimi.

I don't like it because although it doesn't burn your tongue since it has no oils like chili pepper, it goes up your nose and I don't really enjoy that sensation. Still, I've tried fresh wasabi and I must say it has a much sweeter note to it.

Wasabi is a finicky plant wanting the right climate and fresh running water to grow best, so I can see how this little root can be so precious, but I didn't find it hard to just walk away. I may be a snob about some things, but not about wasabi. Besides, somewhere on the Big Island, a farmer has successfully cultivated the wasabi, so if he can up production, this could be a slow foods crop.

2 comments:

  1. The best way of getting 100% Pure Wasabi is to get the Namida 100% Pure Wasabi Powder available from http://www.wasabi.co.nz/order.html. Unlike the fresh wasabi that has a very short life expectancy since it goes soft quickly, the powder can be kept in the fridge or freezer until required. It also has the added benefits of not having any additives or preservatives added and being made from the True Wasabia japonica rhizome as pictured in this article. There are lots of ways of using wasabi in cooking apart from the traditional sushi and sashimi. Recipes can be found at www.wasabi.org, www.wasabi.co.nz, and www.wasabikitchen.com. Product reviews of "wasabi" products can be found at www.wasabireviews.com. Enjoy the buzz that wasabi gives you. Oh! I nearly forgot to mention that you get more bang for your buck with the powder as it is concentrated by a factor of 4 compared to the fresh rhizome.

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  2. Here's a crockpot recipe to add to your list.
    Guaranteed Slow Cooker Laulau
    2# luau leaves, washed and cut into strips
    2 pounds of pork shoulder, cut into chunks
    1 small corned beef or Franks Foods seasoned pork, cut into chunks
    2 cans beef broth
    Hawaiian salt and pepper

    Empty 1 can of beef broth in the bottom of the slow cooker
    Season the pork shoulder with Hawaiian salt, pepper and a little cooking oil. Let sit for about an hour.
    Layer 1/3 of the lu'au leaves.
    Top this with the corned beef chunks
    Cover with the next 1/3 of lu'au leaves
    Top this with the seasoned pork chunks.
    Cover with the final 1/3 of the lu'au leaves.
    Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. You might have to put some weight on the cover until the leaves cook down

    Served 10-15 people.

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