If you are flavor critic or just someone who enjoys the finer things in life, get ready to have your mind blown. Think back to all of the times you spent serious dough on sushi. You'll be surprised to learn that the wasabi in sushi isn't really wasabi after all! You've been tricked, kind reader. The green inferno of flavor you thought you were consuming is probably not the real stuff. All that money you spent didn't go to the authentic wasabi-laced food, but to a cheaper knockoff.
Sarah Everts, the senior editor of Chemical & Engineering News, was the one to drop the bombshell on all of us. Turns out that the green stuff we've been served at various restaurants is nothing like the real wasabi traditionally grown in Japan. And before you start writing letters to your local congressperson, be aware of how difficult and expensive it is to grow and sell the wasabi plant in real life. It's not just laziness thats keeping us from experiencing authentic Japanese cuisine staple. In fact, you will be hard pressed to find restaurants in Japan that serve real wasabi.
If you are looking for real wasabi, you should be willing to dish out even more cash than before. The wasabi plant is only good for about 15 minutes after it is ground up into a paste. Any more time after that and the flavor is lessened. You will no longer experience the true taste of the plant. So if you go to a place that advertises their "real" wasabi, pay attention to when they serve it to you. Most high end restaurants will grind up the root right in front of you or give you a personal serving that you grind up yourself. Either way, get ready for a trip to flavor town. Below the video explaining the entire mind blowing truth about wasabi.
To break it all down, this is what wasabi actually looks like.
It's a rootlike substance that likes to grow is fresh water streams. It's not really the kind of plant that you can grow in a greenhouse because when grown in large quantities it is highly susceptible to deceases. This all means that you will not see it at your local sushi place. Instead you will more than likely be given a mixture of horseradish, green dye and mustard.
Those three ingredients are mixed together in to the familiar green paste we see served inside of the sushi containers we get for dinner. It's not the real thing, but I bet you didn't even know until today. The actual wasabi can be very expensive. According to the video, you can pay $50 for a stem of the plant.
The complicated way of growing it and the expensive price tag means you will be hard-pressed to find real wasabi next to your sushi plate. But if you are willing to put in the money, you can taste some!