This Aloha Friday I wanted to feature my newly harvested wasabi plant. It grows exceptionally well in Volcano, and once it starts sprouting keikis (offspring), it is easy to separate into smaller pots and start growing even more. Rumor has it that wasabi is hard to grow, and in very high demand in Japan, so I’m fortunate that my plants are doing fairly well. They require loose, moist soil, and cool weather, and can be a little bit on the temperamental side. They have enjoyed all of this rainy weather we’ve been having and they do not like direct sunlight for too long. I also have the best success in pots as I’m able to move them around when necessary. If you can get your hands on some seeds or rhizomes, I recommend try growing your wasabi in pots first, so that you can control the environment better. For additional information about growing wasabi in the ground, Wikihow has a great tutorial at: https://www.wikihow.com/Grow-Wasabi.
The wasabi plant is in a family of plants that include cabbage, Brussel sprouts and mustard. Wasabi is actually quite nutritious and contains healthy amounts of Potassium, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Calcium. There is a very interesting article from the BBC regarding the health benefits of real wasabi and one of the “benefits” mentioned included the ability to reduce wrinkles. (Woo-Hoo!) That article can be found here: http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29082091.
If you’ve eaten wasabi before, you’re not likely to forget the burning sensation in your nose and the instant, watery eyes. Perhaps the best part about eating wasabi is the signature burn. Sadly, fresh wasabi can be very difficult to find, and most ‘wasabi’ sold in supermarkets is really horseradish with green food coloring added. If you can get your hands on some fresh stuff, the best way to prepare it, is to take the stem and use a cheese grater with fine holes to grate the stem into a paste. Additionally, if you didn’t already know, fresh wasabi quickly loses it’s flavor and should be eaten within 15 minutes of grating. The wasabi plant leaves can also be consumed and are just as pungent and spicy as the stem.
If you can’t eat your fresh wasabi stem right away, you can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in a damp paper towel until use. If you cannot consume the refrigerated wasabi stem within a few weeks, dry the stem out completely, and then grind into a powder. The freshly picked stems don’t usually last long around my house and we eat them up before they can dry out, so I probably won’t get around to grinding it down to a powder. If there is a surplus of stems in the future, I may have to try drying some out to grind for my spice collection.