Authentic wasabi root is taken from the Japanese Wasabia Japonica plant. Often compared to horseradish, true wasabi fans are quick to point out they are not the same thing at all. The wasabi underground stem is called the rhizome and the part of the plant most sold in the grocery stores. The root contains most of the nutrients.
You may be surprised to discover that true wasabi root is a member of the watercress family. It can be expensive because it is not an easy plant to grow. It is a nubby root that is usually green or greenish-white. Wasabi has a hot spicy flavor and that is exactly what people like about it.
Choosing the Best
When buying wasabi, you want to look for a fresh looking root with no signs of rot or moisture damage. The roots should be approximately 1 ½ inches long. Be prepared to pay a significant amount of money for one wasabi root if it is authentic Wasabia Japonica.
To keep your wasabi root fresh:
- Dampen a paper towel
- Wrap the paper towel around the root
- Refrigerate for up to one month
If you want to store the wasabi for as long as a month then you should re-dampen the towel and rinse the root periodically.
Preparing and Cooking
Wasabi root can be sliced or grated for recipes or turned into a paste for sauces and dips. It is used in salads, sauces, mashed potatoes and chicken dishes. The wasabi paste is a frequent accompaniment to sushi.
To prepare the wasabi root for use:
- Put on thin rubber gloves
- Rinse the wasabi in cool water
- Peel the skin off the root using a paring knife like you would use on a potato
- Remove the root knobs if root will be grated
- Rinse the peeled root in cool water
If you are going to grate the wasabi, a ginger grater works well. You can also slice the wasabi to use in recipes.
The leaves of wasabi are edible if your root happens to have leaves attached. You can boil them for a few minutes and use them in salads and recipes. They are especially delicious when mixed with soy sauce.
Wasabi has virtually no cholesterol and no saturated fat, but is high in dietary fiber. Eating wasabi root will give your body a good supply of Vitamins B6 and C and also of magnesium and potassium in addition to other essential minerals.
The vitamins B6 and C are important to overall body health. Vitamin B6 helps the body breakdown protein and then assists the building of non-essential proteins. Vitamin B6 also helps the body produce healthy red blood cells. Vitamin C is needed for building connecting tissue and it also supports a healthy immune system.
Fiber helps with digestion and lowers cholesterol. The wasabi root minerals promote a healthy cardiovascular system.
One cup of sliced wasabi has significant amounts of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A – 45.5 I.U.
- Vitamin C – 54.5 mg
- Dietary fiber – 10.1 g
- Folate – 23.4 mcg
- Iron – 1.3 mg
- No cholesterol
- No saturated fat
- Calcium – 166 mg
- Phosphorous – 104 mg
- Potassium – 738 mg
- Magnesium – 89.7 mcg
Wasabi adds an interesting and unique flavor to your meals. It’s heart healthy and flavorful.