If you are a fan of Japanese cuisine, you know that wasabi adds an extra kick to your favorite sushi and sashimi. However, did you know that some of the wasabi you commonly find in supermarkets and restaurants are not the real thing? Many of them are actually horseradish with green food coloring.
If you want to experience the real flavor and heat of authentic wasabi, you need to get your hands on wasabi root. In this article, we will be your guide on the wasabi hunt, where to buy wasabi root, its growing conditions, and how to store it properly.
Wasabi root is not commonly sold in supermarkets, but you can find them in specialty stores or online markets. Here are some places where you can buy this coveted spice:
Online Stores: Several online stores such as Foraged, specialize in selling fresh and authentic wasabi root. Some of them even ship worldwide, so you can enjoy traditional wasabi regardless of your location.
Asian Markets: If you live near an Asian market, you may be able to find fresh wasabi root there. Many of them have a section filled with rare vegetables and spices used in Asian cuisine, including wasabi root. However, you need to check regularly as the supply may not be consistent.
Local Farmers' Market: Local farmers' markets may also have fresh wasabi root available, especially in Japan or other Asian countries. The advantage of buying from a farmer's market is that you can ask the farmer directly about the quality of the wasabi root and get tips on how to use it effectively.
Specialty Stores: Some specialty stores that cater to gourmet cuisine may have fresh wasabi root available. These stores may include exotic food shops, specialty spice stores, and upscale grocery stores. However, buying from these stores may be more expensive than other options.
Wasabi is a notoriously difficult plant to cultivate. It requires specific conditions that are difficult to replicate, making it a rare and expensive ingredient. Here are some of the requirements for growing wasabi root:
Cool and Shaded Environment: Wasabi grows best in cool and shaded environments, ideally between 45-70℉. The plant requires constant moisture, making it a challenge to grow in areas where humidity is low.
Pure Running Water: Wasabi requires clean running water to thrive, specifically from mountain streams. The water should have a pH level between 6.5-7.5, and the temperature should be between 50-68℉. The quality of the water can significantly affect the flavor of the wasabi root.
Nutrient-Rich Soil: Wasabi thrives best in well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. The soil should be slightly acidic, with a pH level of around 6.0-6.5.
Fresh wasabi root can be stored in several ways. Here are some tips to help you store wasabi root to ensure its freshness and quality:
Refrigeration: Fresh wasabi root can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. It is best to wrap the root in damp paper towels to prevent it from drying out. However, do not store it with other produce with a strong aroma as it can affect the flavor of the wasabi.
Freeze: You can also freeze fresh wasabi root. First, grated the root and placed it in an airtight container. The grated wasabi can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
Dehydrate: Dehydrating fresh wasabi root can preserve it for an extended period. Slice the root into thin pieces and place it in a dehydrator to dry. Once dried, store it in an airtight container, and it can last for up to two years.
Wasabi root is a rare and exotic ingredient that can add flavor and heat to your favorite Japanese dishes. While it may be challenging to find wasabi root in your local supermarket, there are other options available, including online stores, Asian markets, and specialty stores. When buying wasabi root, make sure to check the quality and the seller's reputation to ensure that you are getting an authentic product. Once you have purchased the wasabi root, store it in the refrigerator, freezer, or dehydrate it to keep it fresh. With fresh wasabi root in your kitchen, you can take your Japanese cuisine to the next level and enjoy the real flavor and heat of this coveted spice.
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