Wasabi (noun) – [wəˈsɑːbi]


Wasabi, known as Japanese horseradish, is a species of plant in the cruciferous family (Brassicaceae) native to Japan. Its scientific name is Wasabia japonica. Wasabi has a long tradition in Japanese cuisine and has been used for centuries as a spice and for medicinal purposes.

Cultivation and harvesting:

Growing wasabi is challenging and requires a moist, cool climate as well as clean, running water. The plant grows best in shady, mountainous regions, where it is grown in artificial or natural streams. Wasabi plants take about one to two years to mature. The most valuable component of the plant is the thick, green rootstock, which is grated and used as a hot spice.

Taste and Use:

Fresh wasabi is characterized by a sharp, intense flavor that quickly loses intensity. Unlike chili heat, which persists in the mouth, wasabi’s spiciness works mainly in the nasal region and is short-lived. In Japanese cuisine, wasabi is traditionally served with sushi and sashimi, but it can also be used in noodle sauces, salad dressings, and as a seasoning for meat and fish dishes.

Wasabi Products:

Due to the difficulty of growing wasabi and the high demand, a substitute product consisting of horseradish, mustard, and green food coloring is often used. This product is widely available and is often mistakenly sold as “wasabi”. However, real wasabi has a finer aroma and less spiciness than its substitute and is considered a delicacy.

Health aspects:

Wasabi contains various health-promoting compounds, including isothiocyanates, which are responsible for the characteristic spiciness. These compounds have antioxidant, antimicrobial, and possibly anti-inflammatory properties. In traditional Japanese medicine, wasabi is highly valued for its presumed health benefits.


Wasabi is a distinctive, traditional Japanese spice, known for its pungent and aromatic quality. Real wasabi is elaborate to grow and process, making it a prized and often costly ingredient. Its unique aroma and health benefits make wasabi an important component in Japanese cuisine and a popular spice worldwide.

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