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What's sushi without some wasabi? That is just the tip of the wasabi spiceberg though, for wasabi is one widely used spice, used as a seasoning or a condiment. After the disappointment of the Tesco powdered wasabi, I turned my attention to Yutaka. They have a ready made wasabi paste. The box looked promising. Nice Japanese motif, complete with hiragana spelling out wasabi underneath the English, and promising to make sushi "Japan-Easy". Reassuring, but exactly what that really means, I'm not sure. Is Japan easy? Who knows, but since they want me to think this makes Japanese food easy, I decided to give it a whirl.
Once Mr. Tesco delivered my shopping, I unpacked it, and had a chance to read the entire box and not just the front of it. So far, so good. Horseradish is at only 24%, though the wasabi root content was at what initially seemed a mere disappointing .61%. This is pretty strong stuff though, so if it is high quality root, it could pack a flavourful punch. I was unhappy about seeing artificial ingredients however, an unidentified artificial flavour. The presence of a sweetener in addition to the sugar put me off a bit as well, but I am not too distressed as it turns out to be Sorbitol which actually occurs naturally in some stone fruits and is a form of glucose. So while this is not the same as what I could whip up in my kitchen from ordinary ingredients, it seems fairly standard for commercially prepared foodstuffs.
Better news than this, however, was the fact that this stuff actually comes from Japan. Produced and packaged for Yutaka's parent company, Tanzaki Foods, by Kinjirushi Wasabi Nagoya Co. Ltd. A nosy about the web revealed this to be a giant in the wasabi industry. Kinjirushi deal in wasabi, and pretty much only wasabi, and send it forth around the globe to conquer our taste buds. In fact, their website comes in English (and French, Chinese, and Japanese) and extols the greatness that is wasabi, including its health benefits. All this goodness comes from their three factories, and dealt with by offices across Japan, Europe, the Americas, and probably further. So it seems they know their wasabi.
~~~Appearance, Consistency, Taste~~~
These were three things I really wanted to try out. Premium wasabi pastes typically are slightly grey; though mid and lower brand type ones often add green colourant. This was the case with Yutaka's offering as well, but this vibrancy is NOT from colourant, but the variety of bright green wasabi known as "Mitsuki" that Kinjirushi have developed . Coming in a clear toothpaste tube type container with a screw off lid, I found a leafy green concoction that was pleasant to look at. Consistency wise it was thick, but wet enough that it could be easily spread as a condiment upon a sandwich or across the rice of a to be rolled sushi. Taste wise and scent wise, this had the kick I hoped for. Despite the low percentage of wasabi present, I could definitely taste(and smell) the unique fiery sensation of a high grade wasabi, complete with the build up of a penetrating slow burn
. So much so that caution must be used when applying it, or quite honestly, you won't just feel the sinus burn, you run the risk of blowing your skull apart.
~~~~Value for Money~~~
At only 43 gram per tube for £1.59, it works out to be fairly good value. A little bit goes a very long way, so looking at the overall cost of it being £3.70 for 100 grams is rather misleading. Adding to the value is the versatility, as one can not only use this for sushi, but also for making the Japanese udon noodle dish that Yutaka kindly print on the side of the box, as well as other foods such as lime and wasabi salad dressing, wasabi cucumber pickles, wasabi spiced roasted potatoes, and more. It even makes a nice replacement for English mustard when making beef or sausage recipes calling for it. So how much value you get out of it is limited only to how you decide to use it. For me, it is fairly good value, so I think I'll keep some of this on hand, but keep an eye out for some wasabi powder as well.