The secrets of wasabi

15 Aug 2018 in Food Culture

Chances are you’ve never tasted real wasabi. Discover the truth about Japan’s celebrated condiment!

wasabi-preparing
Did you know that real wasabi is a rarity? What most sushi restaurants pass off as wasabi is actually a mix of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring. It’s cheap, easy to make and keeps a long time. But real wasabi is notoriously difficult to grow and only keeps its kick for a matter of minutes!

wasabi-fresh

The wasabi plant, Wasabia japonica, is native to Japan and grows in cool, wet and shady environments such as the banks of mountain streams.

wasabi-plant

wasabi

To cultivate it on a farm, you need to recreate its native habitat – which means growing the plants in terraced fields, so that cold water can pass over without drenching them. Plenty of shade is also a must.

One of Japan’s biggest wasabi farms is the Daio Wasabi Farm in Azumino, where snowmelt from the Japanese Alps provides water that’s cold and pure enough for prime wasabi.

Azumino-wasabi

wasabi-Azumino-daio

From Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto, it’s just a half-hour drive, and you’re free to wander trails through the fields or take a tour on a clear-bottom boat.

Hoshino Resorts KAI Matsumoto

kai-matsumoto

Wasabi-lovers should stop by the shop to pick up anything from crackers to beer and ice cream – all flavoured with wasabi.

Like to try real wasabi yourself? At Hoshino Resorts KAI Alps, your sashimi dish comes with fresh wasabi stem and a shark skin grater. Simply grate the wasabi in a circular motion to form a green paste. This is real wasabi!

wasabi-cooking

Its spiciness is complex and subtle. And unlike “fake wasabi”, it accentuates rather than overpowers the fresh flavours of raw fish!

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