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What wasabi to buy?

BobB Aug 26, 2009 01:00 PM

I know that real fresh-ground wasabi root is the best, but good luck finding it in American markets. Short of that, what's the best way to buy it for home use? I've seen paste in tubes and jars, powdered in tins that you mix with water or other liquid - what's the best? Any brands in particular to look for or avoid?

  1. fmed Aug 26, 2009 04:46 PM

    Most prepared wasabi is actually green dyed mustard powder and horseradish powder.

    You can get true wasabi powder, however. This one is US-based: http://shopping.netsuite.com/s.nl/c.4...

    I often just buy a tube of faux-sabi (eg S&B brand - ubiquitous in Japan) or if I can find it, true wasabi in a tube (Tsunami brand - harder to find) and eat real grated wasabi when I dine at premium sushi restaurants. (I can get fresh wasabi rhizomes at a store within walking distance from my home, but it is pricey stuff).

    2 Replies
    1. re: fmed
      BobB Aug 27, 2009 10:21 AM

      S&B is what they sell in my local supermarket. If it's good enough for you and most Japanese, I'm satisfied, thanks!

      1. re: BobB
        fmed Aug 27, 2009 10:36 AM

        For the sake of disclosure: I'm not Japanese, but S&B brand is the most common faux-sabi for sure.

    2. g
      guilty Aug 26, 2009 05:40 PM

      Try looking in a natural food store for Sushi Sonic powdered wasabi. They have a 100% wasabi powder and a mixture of wasabi and horseradish--both all natural. You just need to add water to the powder and let it sit for a few minutes. It's usually pretty inexpensive, considering the quality and quantity you can make with the powder.

      1 Reply
      1. re: guilty
        l
        luv hamachi Sep 4, 2009 10:11 PM

        Mitsuwa Marketplace the Japanese supermarket on River Road in Edgewater NJ has wasabi root seasonally. It's a fun store to go to if somewhat pricey. Great selection of sake too. It's a short ride from the Lincoln Tunnel or, they may still have a free bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
        http://www.mitsuwanj.com/en/index.htm

      2. thew Aug 26, 2009 07:02 PM

        you can find frozen pregrated real wasabi in japanese markets. i do not know the brand name. ask for the best wasabi they have. tell them frozen is ok. then chop it into cubes, and keep them frozen, so you can use what u want when you want

        2 Replies
        1. re: thew
          cgfan Aug 27, 2009 04:49 PM

          What you want to look for is "Hon Wasabi", which means authentic Wasabi. It's almost always written in Japanese only, so look for the "Hon" character, which looks like this: 本 ( http://www.kanjisymbol.net/kanjiimg/m...

          )

          The problem is that most of the preparations that are labelled as Hon Wasabi are not 100% Wasabi either; just a portion of them is Hon Wasabi and the rest horseradish. This you can only tell by reading the Japanese on the tube, as I've found the translations of the ingredient labels are very unreliable.

          There is one brand that's sold in the Japanese stores that truly is 100% Hon Wasabi, but I don't have the information on me at this time.

          Better yet I obtain my Wasabi through my favorite Sushi bar. Though they use the actual root several times a year, most of the time they use a 100% pre-grated Wasabi product sold only to food service establishments. Far better than any "off-the-shelf" product sold in the Japanese stores. I just buy a bag of it through them and keep it in the freezer, thawing out a little at a time as I use it.

          1. re: cgfan
            Tom Armitage Sep 2, 2009 03:13 PM

            What a great idea. You're the best, cgfan.

        2. d
          duck833 Aug 27, 2009 05:04 PM

          Oregon has more than hazelnuts, Pinot Noir and hippies. We also have ideal conditions in a few places for growing wasabi. Here is a link to one of the most established grower and providers located in Florence, Oregon

          http://www.freshwasabi.com/

          5 Replies
          1. re: duck833
            liu Aug 27, 2009 05:59 PM

            Hello, duck833!
            I can vouch for freshwasabi.com. A couple of years ago I ordered 6 tubes of their Pacific Farms 100% real Wasabi Paste. Second to the root itself, it is very good and it can be frozen for future use. I did have some difficulty squeezing the tubes and when I called them back to confer with them about this very odd problem, they were completely understanding and helpful. Perhaps they have addressed this problem since then.

            If the reader is in an area that they "might" attempt to grow a root, about six years ago I ordered two roots from Frog Farm in Seattle, Washington. I am in Southern California, but we were quite successful in growing these roots...until the gardener pulled them...yikes!
            I am not sure if this Frog Farm is still around, although I suspect that they are. They were amazingly helpful with instructions for cultivating their roots. I would definitely grow them again!

            1. re: liu
              BobB Aug 28, 2009 07:23 AM

              Frog Farm seems to be gone - the only link I can find for them is on an archived page (http://viatraveldesign.com/archive/FFF8BAD18C42B9E9/) but the site it links to, www.wasabifarm.com, no longer exists. Too bad, I do like to garden and it would be fun to grow my own.

              But thanks duck for the link to freshwasabi.com, that looks like the next best thing.

              1. re: BobB
                liu Aug 28, 2009 09:50 AM

                BobB -- Perhaps you could ask wasabifarm for information about purchasing fresh roots. They all know each other! There is nothing like grating your own!!! It does take about 18 months minimum for those roots to establish themselves, however, and grow. If you can get them going, they produce a lot of daughters that you can replant or give to friends.

                1. re: liu
                  BobB Aug 28, 2009 10:13 AM

                  Actually that makes me a bit nervous - I planted (Western) horseradish once and discovered too late that it's one of the most invasive garden plants out there.

                  1. re: BobB
                    liu Aug 28, 2009 10:22 AM

                    I'm sensitive to that, BobB. We have mint growing every-which-way in our vegetable garden. But we did not have that problem with the wasabi roots we planted; of course, they were in the ground for only a couple of years before the gardener pulled them.

          2. j
            jeanmarieok Aug 28, 2009 09:53 AM

            I don't love 'real' wasabi, and neither do my japanese neighbors. They use S&B. They turned me onto a nice steak sauce with some wasabi powder, mixed up with a little red wine. I love IT.....

            1 Reply
            1. re: jeanmarieok
              buttertart Aug 30, 2009 07:57 AM

              Thanks for the tip, it sounds fantastic. I buy S&B and make a dipping sauce for raw veg with appx 1 tsp wasabi paste, 1 tsp hot sauce of whatever variety is to hand, salt and pepper, and 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.

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