In the world, there are hundreds of condiments that help us to give a special flavor to meals and that we can even use for many more purposes than just the culinary. Among them, one of those that has perhaps become more popular, because of its presence as a companion in the popular Japanese food, is wasabi, an incredible seasoning whose properties, uses and more we will tell you next.
In Japanese cuisine it is one of the essentials. The wasabi (Wasabia Japonica, Cochlearia Wasabi or Eutrema Japonica) wins every day in followers and in popularity. If you are wondering what superfood is the one that hides behind that somewhat strange denomination, you should know that it is a green root native to the island of Sakhalin in Japan and that it does not grow anywhere else in the world.
The reason that it cannot be grown in more places, responds to the fact that the conditions that wasabi needs to grow are certainly complex and quite difficult to imitate . This makes the wasabi that we usually eat an imitation of the original. Follow us and we will show you everything you need to know about this superfood and how to distinguish Japanese from the rest.
What is the Japanese wasabi?
Knowing it or not, you may have already tried wasabi in a Japanese restaurant, although you probably don’t know anything about that green pasta that bites a lot . Well, it’s time for you to familiarize yourself with this sensational food that:
- It is a plant belonging to the family of turnip, radish and mustard
- Its leaves have a dark green color
- Its measurement is about 15 centimeters and the part that is consumed is the root
- Its root is called raiforte and is a Japanese radish that itches a lot
- Its peculiar spicy makes it one of the favorite condiments of the Japanese country
- It is mostly perceived by the nose
- It is a regular companion of sushi (that green pasture that mixes with soybeans)
- Its extremely spicy flavor means that it cannot be consumed alone
- Traditional Chinese medicine considers it one of its main allies
- As a medicinal remedy it is increasingly used worldwide
- Its uses are so varied and effective that, the next time you try it, you won’t want to run away from it.
Know its properties and benefits
For many centuries now, this root has been considered a type of Yang food by Eastern medicine. This translates into having the ability to fight against diseases that produces an excess of Ying.
Specifically, we are referring to a series of cold-related diseases , such as flu, colds, stomach ailments or joint pain.
This Japanese seasoning is an efficient aid when it comes to combating diseases caused by low temperatures. In addition, the sensation of itching that you will perceive through the nasal passages, helps to clear them and decongest them, given their mucolytic effects . With it you can also get warm, so you will catch a cold even if you are cold.
People suffering from anemia find in this root an essential prop to fight this condition, since it helps the body to better absorb iron .
With regard to blood circulation, the consumption of wasabi will also improve it, given its slight effect that promotes blood flow . Thus, this superfood helps prevent heart attacks.
As an anti-inflammatory is also priceless, since there are many antioxidant properties , so it is highly recommended for the prevention of pain of those who have diagnosed inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.
As with broccoli, wasabi intake is interesting with a view to the possible prevention of cancer , by helping the liver to neutralize and discard the toxic substances we eat.
In case you still do not have enough reasons to include this food in your pantry, you must be aware that it is a natural antimicrobial as few. Its antiseptic action eliminates bacteria and prevents their proliferation, becoming a magnificent relief for throat conditions.
Continuing with its virtues, its high content of vitamin C , make it the ideal antioxidant to combat, stop and eliminate the harmful effect of free radicals. This means that you will be able to stay young for longer, since it prevents the aging of skin, tissues and joints, among others.
What is it for
The wasabi is that Japanese seasoning that gives your dishes an amazing touch . Besides, it fulfills an important function, since in the Japanese kitchen there are abundant dishes based on raw fish. Do not forget that this root is a powerful antibacterial, antimicrobial and natural antiseptic , which since time immemorial is used to preserve fish.
Their work when it comes to combating and ending parasites that may be present in raw fish is commendable, although you have to be careful as it cannot protect against anisakis , unless the fish is covered with wasabi for a period of time. of long time.
The wasabi you buy is an imitation
For some time now, eating out at a Japanese restaurant is all the rage. In any of them, the presence of wasabi, a curious and strange ingredient, that is common to see next to sushi or sashimi will catch your attention.
But do you think it is wasabi really? Well, the truth is that no, as are those green “pegotitos” that accompany the nigris, nor the tubes that you find in the areas dedicated to international food products in the supermarket, not even the dust that you can acquire in gourmet stores at a somewhat higher price.
The wasabi that we usually buy is not the one that comes from the Japanese island. Moreover, in Spain it is quite difficult to acquire authentic wasabi . The one we buy normally is a substitute for this root achieved from horseradish, coloring and a bit of royal wasabi.
For that reason we feel that itchy nose so characteristic and that many love. This fake wasabi will also serve as an accompaniment to sushi, salads, meat and even as a condiment for your special sauces and mayonnaise.
We have already indicated that real wasabi needs characteristics that are very difficult to recreate in order to be cultivated. It is a root that grows in water instead of in the ground as most roots do and requires plenty of water, clean and cold.
Thus, the ideal environment for its correct growth would be a river or stream without too much force. Such conditions are what allow this root to reach a very high price that makes it inaccessible to many pockets , even in their country of origin.
In the case that you visit Japan, you will have the possibility to take authentic wasabi. You will see that they are going to serve you just before their consumption because it is customary to serve it on the spot together with oroshigane, a special traditional Japanese scratcher. Otherwise, their properties will be lost in a short time.
Consume it, even if it is not original
What we propose may sound paradoxical, but the truth is that fake wasabi also plays a beneficial role for your body . Quite more accessible and economical, you can buy it in powder that you will prepare yourself or in pasta that you will serve directly.
If you are a fan of the fake wasabi, you will burn in the desire to try the true one, which will attract you more and more, but it is likely that to do so you will have to wait to visit “the country of the rising sun”.
Do you know what wasabi’s origin?
The true wasabi is originally from Japan , specifically from the island of Sakhalin , where the right conditions for its difficult cultivation are achieved.
However, this wonderful root is exported to many parts of the world, and even tube wasabi pastes are sold in the markets that, although they do not correspond to the original wasabi, fulfill their function very well and are much more accessible.
Meet the art of cultivating wasabi
The cultivation of wasabi is anything but simple, as they require certain conditions for the roots to grow.
In case you do not know, there are seventeen developed wasabi growers , each of them with their own methods and with a specific climate that circumscribes the crop, separating it from other areas.
This root can be cultivated in 2 different ways that are: in flooded fields or in partially solid soils . On the other hand, there are also 2 methods that are used for commercial cultivation , which are: flooding and drying (which gives better quality roots), and cultivation in partially humid soils .
In general, its cultivation is carried out by means of cuttings that grow with the mother plant, hydroponics or micropropagation . The root takes about 2 years to mature and can be consumed after 2 or 3 years .
The wasabi in the kitchen
We know that this magical root is grated to obtain a greenish paste that is what we call wasabi, and that is usually served as an accompaniment to raw fish, better known as sushi. However, there are many other preparations in which this seasoning is included, such as salad dressings, vegetable creams and other proteins such as chicken.
Something important to keep in mind is that, in the kitchen, the wasabi root must be grated just before it is used so that it does not lose its flavor and its properties, although, as we will see later, we can also opt for the wasabi in tube as A substitute for the original seasoning.
The wasabi in medicine
Just as it has utility in the culinary arts, this exquisite root also finds applications in medicine, serving its consumption to combat various ailments and diseases , such as:
- Breast, colon and stomach cancer.
- Food poisoning.
- Blood stones
There are also numerous recipes that include wasabi and that seek to treat conditions such as:
- Sinusitis: mix 1 teaspoon of wasabi with 1 tablespoon of water and apply to the sinuses.
- Flu: make a paste with 1 teaspoon of wasabi, mixed with 1 teaspoon of ginger powder and water, and consume.
- Tartar and bacterial plaque: gargle with a solution of ½ glass of water, the juice of ½ lemon and 1 teaspoon of wasabi powder, just after each meal.
- Blood clots: consume ½ teaspoon of wasabi daily with some food.
Discover other uses of wasabi that you did not know
In addition to the uses that have been given to wasabi root , it is worth mentioning the uses of wasabi in a tube , which some call “fake wasabi”.
This product is a paste that they sell in supermarkets, although it can also be bought in powders to prepare , which is made with horseradish, coloring and just a pinch of royal wasabi . However, its flavor is very similar to the original, and it is also cheaper and easier to acquire.
This product goes very well with meals, so we can use it instead of the wasabi root itself , giving the preparations a very similar flavor.
What benefits do we receive from wasabi?
Because it is a food so rich in nutrients, it is not surprising that it has many benefits to provide, including:
- It helps eliminate bacteria: its antimicrobial effect prevents the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds, so it is a great companion for raw fish, since it prevents any microbial agent from developing.
- Reduces inflammation: being a powerful anti-inflammatory, wasabi helps reduce swelling in sores and wounds.
- It is anticancer: it is linked to foods such as broccoli and cabbage, which contain chemical components that help improve liver health. In addition, it has isothiocyanates that help block the phase enzymes that give rise to pre-carcinogenic compounds. These compounds allow the liver to more easily neutralize the different toxic substances that travel through the body and give rise to cancerous tumors.
- Improves cardiovascular health: wasabi blocks platelet aggregation, so it helps decrease the chance of having heart attacks.
- Improves arthritis: thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it works as a powerful pain reliever for joint pain.
- It helps prevent tooth decay: its antiseptic action takes care of tooth enamel, preventing the formation of bacteria in the mouth and, consequently, the appearance of tooth decay.
- It serves as a natural disinfectant: thanks to its antibacterial action, it can fight bacteria such as E. coli, staphylococci and pylori bacteria.
- It helps detoxify the body: the wasabi allows the liver to eliminate toxins and carcinogens, more effectively.
- It helps to lose weight: this thanks to its low caloric content.
- It promotes digestion: the wasabi is an excellent digestive that helps to assimilate food better and also keeps the intestinal tract healthy.