“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Sauces „
~~~~What exactly is wasabi anyway?~~~~
You may have tried snacks called wasabi peas, wasabi beans, or even Knobby's Nuts wasabi flavoured nuts. If you eat sushi, you may even have tried that green paste in packet or to the side of the sushi plate and been rewarded by your mouth suddenly getting a hole burnt through it and your sinuses miraculously decompressing if you unwisely took too large a taste. Yup, it is spicy, and while it may often be called Japanese horseradish, it's not a horseradish plant. Rather, while it is indeed a member of the brassica family, the term is more a reference to how it is prepared and used .
Wasabi is a made from the root of a member of the brassica family that is originally native only to Japan, Eutrema japonica (also known as Wasabia japonica). The fresh root is either finely grated and then pulped into a paste either on its own or with horseradish and mustard, or dried and mixed with ordinary horseradish and mustard into a powdery preparation that can be reconstituted with water to make wasabi paste. One can also get the paste already prepared and in a tube. A quality wasabi paste
with a high concentration of the expensive wasabi root will be almost greyish in colour, while cheaper preparations are often green. In Japanese cooking, the paste is usually served with sushi and sashimi, both as a side or as an actual ingredient in a sushi, where it may lurk between the fish and the rice. It is also popular in snacks, and peas, beans, and nuts are often slow roasted and coated with wasabi paste to produce a spicy snack food. It has a sharp, piercing hotness that is more closely akin to the sort one encounters with a chilli pepper as opposed to say cumin or a spicy curry, but unlike chilli peppers it is easily cooled down by drinking water or eating a blander food after.
~~~~Any benefits to me eating this stuff?~~~~
Actually, yes. As I said before, it is an excellent way to clear our sinuses. The heat from a quality bit of wasabi can clear the stuffiest head, and there is also evidence that it may help cut short any germ infestation thereof. This is because the intense flavours come from something known as isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates are a chemical compound found only within the mustard family group and not only give them their pungency, but also inhibit microbe growth and carcogenesis (cancer cell development). So much so in fact, that these chemical compounds are being used to develop new anti-cancer medication.
~~~~How can I get some?~~~~
With the soaring popularity of Asian cooking within the UK, many high street supermarkets carry either wasabi paste or powder in some form. I decided to try the Tesco Ingredients powder form so that I could store it in my pantry ready to mix up as I needed it. As Tesco have made inroads into the mini-supermarket business in Japan, I hoped the fact that they had created this own brand product meant that they had thoroughly researched the product and that it would be just the ticket. What a disappointment.
~~~~Uh-oh, what's wrong with it?~~~~
Ever hear of bland horseradish? Me neither, yet his is precisely what Tesco have on offer. It says it is 50% horseradish, 10% wasabi, and the remainder of the powder being mustard. All I have to say on the matter is depsite the pale colour, the stock they used must been of very low quality because there simply is no bite at all. Wasabi is extremely pungent, so a 10% share of the mixture should have allowed the eyes to at least water. Quality horseradish has quite a kick too, so the mouth should have least had a good tingle from its 50% share. And everyone knows mustard is sharp, so a 40% share should have given some sort of retort, no? No, indeed. I tried mixing up some into a thick paste. It tasted weaker than American style yellow mustard for a hot dog. Yup, such prepared mustard has more teeth than this! Next, I tried using it to spice up a stew. I thought perhaps my taste buds were jaded, but hey, hubby likes rather bland food, he won't even eat food that has any kind of salt added to it. I had to add nearly half a tin of this powder before he noticed, and even then, his only comment was, hey, did you add a pinch of Coleman's mustard to this or something? I can vaguely taste something like that. ARGH!
This may be produced in Japan for Tesco, but sadly, Tesco seems to have geared the strength of the produce used for flavour to what they think unsophisticated British taste buds may like. I have news for them. My 6 year old says it is practically baby food as it has so little taste. In fact, this has proven to be what I use the remainder of this tin for. When we have toddlers come to stay, they get this wasabi with their dinner. The ready made paste I bought to replace this is far too strong for little tikes, but this does provide an introduction to the taste. But hey, if you are a grown up and can't stand it hot, this might be for you. Me, I think if you can't stand the heat, don't wander into the Japanese kitchen!