What Is Wasabi? Its Taste, Uses And Benefits

What Is Wasabi? Its Taste, Uses And Benefits

Sushi is always paired up with wasabi! So, have you ever wondered what is wasabi and how exactly it is made? Just relax! Wasabi paste is mostly used in Japanese dishes like sushi, fish tacos, etc. My today’s post on what is wasabi sauce can be very helpful for those who have never tasted this stuff! Here, you will find all the interesting facts about wasabi. I have also included key differences between what is real wasabi and fake wasabi. In the end, the health benefits of wasabi and some FAQs are also included. Let us now study what is wasabi to know about this mysterious ingredient.

What Is Wasabi?

Wasabi is a green-colored root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is a slow-growing perennial plant. And it is usually available in three forms: paste, powder, and rhizome. All the parts of the plant are edible. This root vegetable is most commonly used as a condiment or seasoning.

Now let’s have a look at its physical appearance.

  • It has a height of about 20 to 60 cms.
  • This plant has circular to kidney-shaped leaves.
  • It also bears small clusters of white flowers with four petals.

You can keep on reading further to know how to grow wasabi in detail.

Taste Of Wasabi

Wasabi is very pungent and deep in a flavored paste. The paste also has aromatic, fresh, and sweet odors. As this paste is pungent, it directly clears your nasal passages! This paste can easily compliment the flavors of strong and oily fishes. In each bite, it adds an aroma of spiciness and a touch of quickly fading heat!

Some restaurants do serve fake wasabi instead of real ones. In such cases, you must also know the taste difference between real and fake wasabi. Here, I have listed down a few key points that might be helpful for you.

  • Fake wasabi has a very strong taste than the real one.
  • Fake wasabi has a strong blast of spiciness. On the other hand, real wasabi is spicy but not that hot.
  • The flavor of true wasabi only lasts for a few minutes. While fake wasabi holds the heat for a much longer time.

Next time, if your mouth is on fire after eating wasabi you will easily know that you are eating the fake wasabi!

Uses Of Wasabi

Wasabi powder is a great spice if you want to experiment with your dishes. It is an affordable option if you do have the real wasabi. There are also some other ways to use wasabi apart from pairing it with sushi! Let’s see what is wasabi used for in this part.

  • Wasabi can be used to flavor butter, mayonnaise, and hollandaise sauce.
  • You can also use it for salad dressings too.
  • This root vegetable can be used in marinades for meat and fish.
  • It can be paired with steak and trout.
  • Several ice cream shops even add a hint of wasabi in ice creams.
  • The stems and leaves of the wasabi plant can be consumed by stir-frying them.

Health Benefits Of Wasabi

Wasabi is not only delicious to taste, but is also loaded with health benefits. This root vegetable is full of vitamins, antioxidants, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties! To know what is wasabi good for, you can keep on reading further.

  • Wasabi helps in improving the immune system.
  • It can remove all the harmful toxins from your body.
  • This root vegetable has the ability to kill harmful food-borne bacteria’s.
  • They can help with arthritis and bone-related issues.
  • It can minimize the risk of cancer and heart disease.
  • Wasabi also helps in losing excess fat.
  • Its anti-inflammatory properties are good for joints and muscles.
  • This root vegetable can help with respiratory conditions.

Remember that all the above-listed health benefits are only applicable for real wasabi, not fake ones.

Cultivation Of Wasabi

True or real wasabi is made from the rhizome of the Wasabia japonica plant. Here, a rhizome is the subterranean stem of the flowering, mustard plants. This root vegetable is traditionally grown at the foot of the mountains. It is quite hard to grow wasabi as it requires a steady supply of water, a particular type of soil, shade, and temperature. All these factors must remain in regular order for the growth of roots.

They take between 15 months to two years to fully grow. Sometimes, the rhizome can take up to three years to reach maturity. Wasabi typically relies on mineral-rich spring water and manual labor. However, any breakage of leaves either by farmworkers or animals can slow down its growth. This is why wasabi is really expensive than other root vegetables. 

You must be surprised to know that Japanese people are eating wasabi since 14,000 BC. It was mostly served as a condiment in several Japanese dishes. Thus, Japan is still one of the biggest wasabi producers and consumers! Apart from Japan other countries like China, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand, and the United States also cultivate wasabi on a small scale.

As now you have understood what is wasabi made of, let us see what is wasabi paste.

Wasabi Paste

It is a finely grated paste that is made from the stem of the rhizome or wasabi plant. Once wasabi is fully grown, all the leaves of the plants are trimmed down to the stem by hands. This stem is then gently grated into a paste and then served as condiment or seasoning. Microplate grater or sharkskin grater works best for grating wasabi.

You can also get wasabi paste in the grocery stores in tube packaging. It is an inexpensive option for sushi lovers if fresh wasabi root is not available. You can also dry the same root, dry it, and then grind it into a powder. But they are not as good as real fresh wasabi but are much better than the fake stuff.

In the above part, you have understood what is wasabi made out of. Now, what is wasabi taste like? Is wasabi spicy or sweet? Let’s find out both the answers in the next section.

Storing Wasabi

Some people are very lucky if they find the real piece of wasabi root! If you have got your hands on real wasabi, then it needs to be stored properly. Here, I have mentioned some instructions you need to follow for storing wasabi.

  • Wash and place the root in a glass of water.
  • Make sure you keep the stems out of the water.
  • Now, place the glass in the refrigerator.
  • You need to daily change the water in the glass.

This will help you to keep the wasabi fresh for at least 10 to 14 days. However, the wasabi powder can be kept in the pantry for 1 to 4 years depending on its manufacturing date.

Where To Buy Real Wasabi?

Due to the price and limited availability, finding real wasabi is a tough task! People living in US and UK can find the whole rhizome in nearby supermarkets or from local specialized growers. Otherwise, you can also purchase wasabi paste and powder found in Asian markets and online retailers.


Why Is Wasabi So Spicy?

Wasabi gets its spiciness from a chemical called allyl isothiocyanate. It makes the wasabi super-hot when you taste it.

What Is The Taste Of Wasabi?

Wasabi is very pungent and deep in a flavored paste with a touch of quickly fading heat. This paste also has aromatic, fresh, and sweet odors.

Is Wasabi Actually Spicy?

No, wasabi is not actually spicy in taste but has the aroma of spiciness.

What Exactly Is Wasabi?

Wasabi is a green-colored root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It is a slow-growing perennial plant.

What Is Wasabi Used For In Sushi?

The prime reason behind using wasabi in sushi is to make the fish taste even better. It also helps in fighting bacteria’s from raw fish. In short, its main purpose is to bring out the taste of raw fish and not cover it.

What Is Wasabi Mayo?

Wasabi mayo is a mixture of wasabi powder and mayonnaise.

Get answers to your queries here


So, to wrap up, that’s all you must know about what is wasabi. Wasabi is a green-colored root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. They are slow-growing perennial plants highly cultivated in Japan. Wasabi paste is most commonly paired up with dishes like sushi, steak, and trout. Though wasabi has a lot of health benefits it comes along with a very high price tag! I hope this information will also help you to differentiate the fake wasabi from the real wasabi. You can even share my above guide on what is wasabi with others who are still unaware of this condiment.

Janet Brown

Altaf Shaikh is the QuerClubs bestselling author of They Both Die at the End, More Happy Than Not, and History Is All You Left Me and—together with Becky Albertalli—coauthor of What If It’s Us. He was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. Adam was born and raised in the Bronx. He was a bookseller before shifting to children’s publishing and has worked at a literary development company and a creative writing website for teens and as a book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. He is tall for no reason and lives in Pune.