Doesn’t your delicious sushi deserve the real thing? Photo by Lotus Head.




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CAITLIN BARRETT is a member of THE NIBBLE editorial staff, and she rejects all forms of wasabi wannabe.



October 2005
Updated September 2008

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Condiments

Real Wasabi Q & A

Page 2: More Questions About Wasabi



This is Page 2 of a two-page Q&A on real wasabi versus imitation wasabi. Click here to visit Page 1.


  • Q. I’d like to try the real thing, but not if it’s so rare and expensive.
    A. Not too long ago, you would have been correct. The fresh wasabi rhizome (root) sells for about $8 a root (compare that to 50 cents for a regular horseradish root and you’ll understand why you’ve been getting the imitation stuff at your sushi bar). Real Wasabi™ has changed all that: The company sells canisters of pure ground wasabia japonica put authentic wasabi in the palm of your hand...for less than $6.00.
  • Q. How is Wasabia japonica different from “Wasabi wannabe?”
    When grated fresh, real wasabi is bright green, like the imitation product; when mixed from the powder with water to form a paste, it is a subtle brown-green color and the aromas that develop are spicy and complex. The real difference, however, is in the flavor. The Real Wasabi™ company’s slogan of “Fiery Taste, Smooth Finish™” is most certainly apt. Rather than burning your tongue like a chili pepper or causing you to tear up like horseradish, Real Wasabi™ produces a pleasant vapor at the back of the throat that stimulates the sinuses and gives us a warm, tingly sensation that travels down out spine. It is spicy, but before you can reach your water glass, the burn is replaced by an enjoyable mellow sweetness. It will make your sushi and sashimi taste better than ever.
  • Q. Beyond sushi and sashimi, how can I use wasabi?
    A. The Japanese enjoy it as a condiment with noodles, but you can try it in as many types of dishes,* as far as your imagination takes you. Real Wasabi™ adds an invigorating new dimension of flavor to any dish. We make wasabi butter and wasabi mayonnaise, and are working on a wasabi shortbread. You can even blend it into ice cream (see the recipes on, and some wasabi recipes on However you use it, your taste buds will thank you. Consider these everyday applications:
  • Sauces and Dressings: Real Wasabi’s unique flavor will zing up a salad, marinade or sauce. A simple approach is to blend one part wasabi paste with ten parts of your favorite dressing.
  • Meats: As a barbeque or finishing sauce, wasabi imparts a delicious flavor to steaks, tenderloins, chops or chicken. It is best used during the final ten minutes of cooking. Try it with teriyaki, peanut sauces, marinades or your favorite barbecue sauce.
  • Sweet and Spicy: For a fabulous and unexpected twist, add Real Wasabi™ paste to raspberry, peach, strawberry, blueberry or mango jam. The resulting mixture is incredible on mascarpone and crackers. It is also tasty with fresh fruit salsa. Thin the jam and wasabi mixture with a bit of water to make a finishing sauce for tenderloin, fish or chicken.
  • TunaPotatoes and Vegetables: Real Wasabi™ easily lends its distinctive taste to mashed potatoes. Simply fold the wasabi paste and butter into potatoes before serving. Also, it is great with vegetables, whether brushed on butter while grilling or blended with mayonnaise.
    Photo: Sesame-crusted ahi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes. Photo by Sergey Kashkin | IST.
  • Hors d’Oeuvres: One of the simplest crowd-pleasers is to blend one part Real Wasabi paste with nine parts cream cheese. Spread it on crackers or top a dish of the mixture with with a jam or chutney for a colorful, mouth pleasing dip.
  • Beverages: If you love a good martini, and appreciate the taste of real wasabi, you will flip over the combination. Simply add a dab of the paste to your shaker of chilled vodka. Or, redefine the Bloody Mary by stirring in some wasabi instead of horseradish.
  *Always mix Real Wasabi or any “wasabi” powder into a paste before using it as an ingredient.
  • Q. Is it acceptable to bring my own container of wasabi paste to a sushi bar?
    A. Absolutely. The sushi chefs and waiters will recognize you as a connoisseur! If they show interest, you might offer them the jar so they can make a taste for themselves.
  • Q. Where can I buy Real Wasabi?
    A. You can buy both the dried, ground wasabi powder and the fresh wasabi root (rhizome) at and at specialty retailers nationwide.
  Wasabia japonica rhizomes

A selection of 3 dried wasabi powders

  Fresh wasabi root (rhizome). Dried ground wasabi powder.

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