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.
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.