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Old 03-26-2012, 10:35 AM
 
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,535,356 times
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I was actually quite surprised when I read the wikipedia article on Wasabi out of curiosity (must have been just under a year or so ago, and not long after, I went to a Japanese restaurant with a girl and she and I had a conversation about it -- perhaps not the most polite thing to do, but whatever it happened). The article implies that most wasabi outside Japan is really made with a cheaper substitute of horseradish and mustard with green food colouring?

Just horseradish and mustard? That's it?

I remember ever since I was first introduced to it or learned about it I had thought that wasabi was actually a special Japanese thing, a special condiment, and while I also liked horseradish and mustard as condiments, it totally shocked me to read this article and find out they were just made from the same thing. Now if this was true, that would mean that I've never eaten "real" wasabi from the wasabi plant before, but it it still came as a shocking revelation to me.

I'm not a person that is at all a snob about food and I hardly know anything about food relative to a lot of people, but still it seemed jarring to me to learn this -- probably because I always went through life thinking that wasabi was this "traditional Japanese" thing, while horseradish and mustard were more "ordinary").

Is this true?

From the article:
True wasabi and western wasabi

Wasabi is difficult to cultivate (see below), and that makes it quite expensive. Due to its high cost, a common substitute is a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and green food coloring. Outside of Japan, it is rare to find real wasabi plant. Often packages are labeled as wasabi, but the ingredients do not actually include wasabi plant. Although the taste is similar between wasabi and horseradish, they are easily distinguished. In Japan, horseradish is referred to as seiyō wasabi (西洋わさび?, "western wasabi").[7] In the United States, wasabi is generally found only at specialty grocers and high-end restaurants.[8]
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:42 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,259 posts, read 79,427,308 times
Reputation: 38626
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stumbler. View Post
I was actually quite surprised when I read the wikipedia article on Wasabi out of curiosity (must have been just under a year or so ago, and not long after, I went to a Japanese restaurant with a girl and she and I had a conversation about it -- perhaps not the most polite thing to do, but whatever it happened). The article implies that most wasabi outside Japan is really made with a cheaper substitute of horseradish and mustard with green food colouring?

Just horseradish and mustard? That's it?

I remember ever since I was first introduced to it or learned about it I had thought that wasabi was actually a special Japanese thing, a special condiment, and while I also liked horseradish and mustard as condiments, it totally shocked me to read this article and find out they were just made from the same thing. Now if this was true, that would mean that I've never eaten "real" wasabi from the wasabi plant before, but it it still came as a shocking revelation to me.

I'm not a person that is at all a snob about food and I hardly know anything about food relative to a lot of people, but still it seemed jarring to me to learn this -- probably because I always went through life thinking that wasabi was this "traditional Japanese" thing, while horseradish and mustard were more "ordinary").

Is this true?

From the article:
True wasabi and western wasabi

Wasabi is difficult to cultivate (see below), and that makes it quite expensive. Due to its high cost, a common substitute is a mixture of horseradish, mustard, and green food coloring. Outside of Japan, it is rare to find real wasabi plant. Often packages are labeled as wasabi, but the ingredients do not actually include wasabi plant. Although the taste is similar between wasabi and horseradish, they are easily distinguished. In Japan, horseradish is referred to as seiyō wasabi (西洋わさび?, "western wasabi").[7] In the United States, wasabi is generally found only at specialty grocers and high-end restaurants.[8]
who knows if it is true or not, but the Wasabi I have had is hotter than most horseradish I think.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:49 AM
 
2,401 posts, read 3,804,868 times
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Dunno...
But I buy my Wasabi from Mitsuwa in NJ or my Korean food mart here... Japanese brands preferred.
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Old 03-26-2012, 10:55 AM
 
Location: On the sunny side of a mountain
2,970 posts, read 6,605,182 times
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I've had real wasabi grated fresh from the root and it's a more complex flavor than the powdered stuff you mix with water. Whether the powdered stuff in the US is real or not I'm not sure, but I like it never the less.

If you want to try fresh wasabi this site sells it along with real powdered too: Real Wasabi
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:02 AM
 
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,535,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nmnita View Post
who knows if it is true or not, but the Wasabi I have had is hotter than most horseradish I think.
Yeah, that's the thing.

When I eat stuff with horseradish and eat the wasabi (in both the US and Canada), it still tastes different enough to me.

So I wonder if the article is really true, in that outside Japan, wasabi is totally replaced with horseradish and other things etc.

Since not a lot of people seem to have heard of this, I do wonder if the article is correct?
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:05 AM
 
5,321 posts, read 7,656,746 times
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I love the wasabi that I have had at Japanese restaurants, and had never considered that it wasn't the real thing. I was very surprised when someone told me that horseradish with food coloring, because I really like horseradish and think the stuff I though was wasabi tastes different than horseradish.

How can you tell if a restaurant serves real or fake wasabi?
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Toronto
3,338 posts, read 5,535,356 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by missik999 View Post

How can you tell if a restaurant serves real or fake wasabi?
Yeah, if that claim is true (that a lot of wasabi is fake), that's one thing I want to know as well.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:27 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,258 posts, read 34,604,245 times
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The entire wiki article has a banner caveat on top, warning readers that it's missing verification and sources for information.

That paragraph has only two sources. Both of these sources explain that real wasabi -is- grown in the USA (in addition to Japan), and while expensive, is available. The sushifaq website even goes as far as to recommend you ask your waiter for "fresh" wasabi, and you're likely to actually get it.

The other website explains that a common substitute is mustard -extract- and horseradish (not mustard powder) and food coloring. They don't specify which kind of mustard, but I'm guessing it's not Gulden's Spicy Brown. It's probably the Chinese mustard extract, which is used often in Japanese cooking (and African and Chinese cooking). So if it isn't tasting like what you -think- Gulden's and horseradish would taste like, that's probably why.

This doesn't make it any more genuinely wasabi, but at least it explains the flavor. Also, one of the nicknames used for wasabi is japanese horseradish. That's because of the similarities in flavors. So it wouldn't be much of a reach to substitute with horseradish. Lastly, the substitute is referred to as Western Wasabi by the Japanese, so they have basically validated the substitute's existence, by calling it that.

End result: if you want the real deal, ask for fresh-grated wasabi, and expect to see grated pale root on your plate, not a wet pea-green mush. Your restaurant of choice might be serving the real thing anyway, but at least if you ask for fresh-grated, you -know- it's not going to be a substitute.
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Old 03-26-2012, 11:40 AM
 
5,321 posts, read 7,656,746 times
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I think the first time I heard about the fake wasabi was in the local newspaper's cooking section. The article mentioned that real wasabi is very expensive, and not likely to be served in American restaurants.
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Old 03-26-2012, 12:02 PM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
69,259 posts, read 79,427,308 times
Reputation: 38626
Quote:
Originally Posted by missik999 View Post
I think the first time I heard about the fake wasabi was in the local newspaper's cooking section. The article mentioned that real wasabi is very expensive, and not likely to be served in American restaurants.
again,whatever they serve and/or we buy I think it good. If we never have the real thing we will never know the difference.
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