Note: This entry has been restored from old archives.
Not long ago, while trawling the web for wasabi, I found New Zealand Wasabi, and with little delay I put in an order. It’s not fresh wasabi unfortunately (which could be a bit of a shipping problem from NZ to the UK! Wasabi might even be a weapon of terror.) The story is that anything other than real, fresh wasabi is just not right — alas I have not had the pleasure of real wasabi’s company and it doesn’t seem overly eager to meet me.
NZ Wasabi goes a long way to bringing you the real thing: “It only contains one ingredient — Wasabia Japonica rhizome.“. I imagine it’d be possible to have fresh wasabi delivered too, but you’d need to come to some sort of commercial arrangement. Our humble buying power only allows access to the snorting-grade powdered goods. Judging from information on their website they’ve put a lot of effort into perfecting the growing conditions; so much so they have patented their growing system. It sounds like a great business they’ve got running there, I hope their success continues.
We eagerly awaited the arrival of our wasabi package, the fateful day came upon us and we were the proud recipients of three small jars (12g) and three medium cannisters (50g) of real wasabi powder. One hiccup did occur, the smaller jars were a bit old and the wasabi powder had a rather disturbing “bruised avocado” colour when mixed with water, while the powder from the larger containers produced a more appetising bright green colour. All is well though, the NZ Wasabi people immediately dispatched replacements along with some bonus chocolate! Not just real wasabi, also real customer service.
The wasabi is quite a different creature to the tubed horseradish “wasabi” we’re used to. The colour is much the same, as is the nature of the nose-tingling hotness. The flavour is significantly different, the horseradish “wasabi” tastes much like horseradish — the real wasabi tastes like, well, like wasabi I guess. On the matter of “ouch” the fake wasabi initially seemed to have significantly more bite, but we’re discovering that the potential bite of the rehydrated wasabi powder seems to increase with the level-of and time-since rehydration. The wetter and longer-rehydrated the hotter it gets. (Within reason! I’m talking thick paste for 30 minutes, we’re not laying down bottles of watery wasabi to age.)
I recommend giving this real wasabi a go if you’re keen to explore such things, with the buying power of the GBP against the NZD it doesn’t seem too horrific — our 186g of wasabi cost us 18GBP. That’s OK, considering that a 43g tube of very wet
wasabi horseradish paste from Tesco costs 89p. I can’t guess exactly how much wasabi powder is used to make a gram of paste, but I think the cost delta wouldn’t be all that terrible with hydration taken into account. Based on our usage so far this supply will last us a good while. However at this price it’d be difficult to consider the cost worthwhile in Australia, where the price would be the same.