Japanese ingredients for your healthy life

How to plant wasabi?

A delicate plant

Wasabi, a wonderful condiment, is a Japanese plant known as Japanese horseradish in English, it has thick green roots and these taste like a really strong horseradish and it is a great condiment to use in cooking, especially with raw fish. It is actually a member of the brassicaceae family which is the same one to which cabbages, horseradish and mustard belong. The root of wasabi is used as a side dish to add flavour to other food as it had a potent flavour. it is similar to mustard in its heat and the vapors tend to stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue so taking too much cane mean it’s a little painful. I guess that it could help to clear the sinuses in that it really does affect the nose. Wasabi is oil based for the burning sensation tends to go away quickly and be a short sensation compared to chilli. It’s really best to eat and drink normally which helps to alleviate the burning sensation. With wasabi, you really only need to have a little to get a large taste so when trying be sure to just try a little to start with and then go from there.

 

So, you’ve decided you are just hanging for some of this beautiful hot condiment… but maybe you want to know a little more about the process of it, how to plant it, how it grows, how it's harvested perhaps? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place…. In fact, why not go grab a plate of sashimi and kick back, relax and let us explain to you the method behind growing wasabi.

 

There are two methods in order to grow wasabi:
Method 1 - Field Flooded
Method 2 - In soil

 

Most likely, if you are growing wasabi at home you will be much safer with Method 2, however if you are able to grow hydroponically your choices are broadened, this does require a more specialist knowledge and is much trickier, so for now, let's stick with the Soil method.

 

In order to begin the soil method you need to start by ensuring that you have an area of soil that is well drained to begin with, and also drains easily during the process. Wasabi prefers shaded areas and does not like having wet feet (…who does?), it also needs a generous supply of compost on the soil and for it to be worked through. Using the soil method it is important to keep seeds moist and plant within 48 hours of obtaining them... (remember though, soak them overnight first!).

 

Plant the seeds into the soil at about 2.5-5 cm apart, water them well and mist them daily. Winter is by far the best season for growing wasabi plants, so plant them in autumn to give them the best chance of success. During the warmer or hot months be sure to keep them well irrigated, keep an eye on the soil to ensure that it is draining well, don't let the roots dry out or else they will taste quite bitter when you are finally about to eat them.
Pesky caterpillars can be a problem when it comes to wasabi plants, if they do get to yours spray with dipel and pyrethrum as required. If there are no sign of caterpillars it is advised to keep the wasabi ' spray free' (If you must, use a natural aphid spray).

 

Now, the next part is the absolute hardest... you have to be able to do this part though to ensure the overall success of great wasabi plants. You have to promise to be patient, I know! Hard! … Did you know that wasabi takes between 18 months to 2 years to reach its maturity, meaning you have to wait this long before you get to enjoy it (Note to self: get to planting this right away, the longer you delay... the longer you have to wait!) …. no one said this method was going to be quick, just clearing that up!

 

Once you have waited what will seem like an eternity you can harvest, hooray! Wasabi should be removed by digging up with a pitchfork, be sure to get the rhizomes which contain the greatest concentration of flavour (these are the bits right at the very bottom). It is important If you want to continue to grow the wasabi plant to leave some in the soil to self seed, if the conditions are right, once wasabi is established in the garden it should continue to grow well and self-seed continuously.

 

Now, you've successfully grown the Wasabi plant using the soil method, you must be so proud, from here... what do you do with it? Let us help you out there too:

 

Wasabi's most common use is of course in Sushi or alongside Sashimi. Once the plant is harvested and ground down and made into a paste (it is sold in stores in a toothpaste type tube) it is used inside sushi, it is usually placed in between the fish and the vegetables so that it doesn't lose flavour. You will also see wasabi in its most common form when you visit your local Japanese takeaway store, pick up the plastic little container with all the colourful looking sushi inside and see a green paste rosette shaped sitting there amongst your food? That is wasabi ? be careful how much you put on your fish, its hot, if you haven't eaten it before remember this great piece of advice... less is most definitely more!

 

It is quite common also for legumes such as, peanuts, soybeans or peas to be roasted or fried and then coated with wasabi powder (the wasabi powder has been combines with sugar, oil and salt), these are then eaten as a delicious crunchy snack that can be considered healthy by some but with the added amounts of salt and sugar can become quite unhealthy and should be eaten moderately in small portion sizes.