Green gold brings wasabi tears of joy
Do wait in terrified anticipation for your nostril hairs to start burning and your eyes to water after taste bite of wasabi? Or are you one of those people who loves the sensation?
Considered ‘green gold’ in its native Japan, wasabi is a member of the mustard family and is a prized condiment that is traditionally consumed with sushi, sashimi, tofu, soba noodles and tempura. It has an extremely intense flavour, similar to hot mustard, but sweeter.
Fresh wasabi has become a popular condiment in Australian cuisine over recent years and is now used by many of Australia’s leading restaurants in an array of different dishes and salad, leaf mixes. Wasabi is also used to add a unique flavour to foodstuffs such as cheeses and sauces.
Many first-time users of fresh wasabi are surprised to find the paste is not as brightly coloured as the imitation wasabi paste they usually buy. This is because real wasabi has no artificial colours or preservatives.
Another surprise for many wasabi lovers is that the familiar green paste is not made from the root of the plant but the stems. The stems are short, thick and quite knobbly in appearance and only develop their amazing flavour when grated finely to form the smooth green paste.
Did you also know that grated wasabi loses its intense flavour within a few hours and generally has little flavour left even if stored in a refrigerator overnight. For this reason, wasabi stems should always be freshly grated prior to use.
Try wasabi salad leaves with pear, blue cheese and prosciutto or Wagyu beef and radish. Even fresh tuna steaks! The wasabi leaves have the same addictive “burning” flavour as the stems, so make sure you use all the plant. Wasabi leaves blend well with sweet crisp lettuce leaves offering a subtle transition for mainstream salad lovers. All of these recipes can be found on the Love My Salad website.
Enjoy your salads! Louise.
Join Louise on a journey through the seasons with salad ingredients, old traditions and popular, exotic or unusual vegetables. From Paddock to Plate founder, author, food writer, radio journalist & yoga teacher.