Japanese Wasabi, Wasabia Japonica, also known as Japanese Horseradish, is a strongly flavoured spice made from the root of Wasabia Japonica.
Japanese Wasabi is available commercially as a ready made paste or as a white powder which turns green after being mixed with water to form a paste. Freshly grated Wasabia Japonica, whilst making the best flavoured Wasabi, is both expensive and not widely available. Japanese Wasabi is an indispensable condiment and always served with Sashimi and Sushi together with Soy Sauce, the idea being to mix a little of the Japanese Wasabi with the Soy Sauce to make a dipping sauce.
Japanese Wasabi is extremely pungent which will affect your nose more than your mouth. Wasabi, although a hot spice, is more like mustard than chillies and brings only short term discomfort if overdone, unlike chillies whose effect may last throughout the course of an entire meal.
Japanese Wasabi is now popular everywhere and there are many products available containing Wasabi, including Wasabi flavoured peas, Wasabi flavoured peanuts and Wasabi Mayonnaise. Because of the high cost of Fresh Wasabi, many commercial Wasabi products contain a mixture of Wasabi with other cheaper ingredients like horseradish or mustard. If you are fortunate enough to obtain some fresh Wasabi roots, they should be grated as finely as possible before use.
Japanese Wasabi has several health benefits. Wasabi, as does Broccoli and Cabbage, other members of the Brassicaceae family to which Japanese Wasabi belongs, contains chemicals known as Isothiocyanates which appear to have an anti-cancer effect and these same Isothiocyanates also help to reduce inflammation. Wasabi is also a good anti-bacterial agent.