What's the Deal With Wasabi? A Tasting Guide

If you check our shelves here at Maido, in our spice section, you’ll find a curious variety of wasabi. We have an assortment of tubes, a powder, and, on a limited seasonally dependent basis, actual wasabi root, each with their own benefits. How do you decide which wasabi to use for what? And what are the differences between each type? Clear up your confusion and check the following guide for a quick run-down on what’s what with wasabi!

What even is wasabi?

Wasabi is a Japanese species of horseradish, notorious for its strongly spicy flavor which is felt predominantly through the nose and it’s bright green color. Wasabi is the most popular spicy condiment used in Japanese cooking, and is often paired with foods that are fatty, such as meat, fish, or more recently, avocado. In Japan, the leaves, stems and roots are all used to add spiciness to foods. Unfortunately, wasabi is rather difficult to grow, and as a result most wasabi found outside of Japan is made from western horseradish.

Fresh Wasabi

Acquisitional difficulties aside, fresh wasabi is the way to go if you’re looking for the fullest wasabi-eating experience. Freshly grated wasabi is far less spicy than the tube or powder-based varieties and possesses a distinct fragrance that fades within 30 minutes of contact with air. The relatively high water content of fresh wasabi means that, while the spiciness is intense at the moment of consumption, it fades relatively quickly. Grated wasabi can be used in all the same ways that tube-based or powdered wasabi can. Fresh wasabi here at Maido is fairly expensive and typically only available during the holidays, but its exceptional taste means it pays for itself.

Tube Wasabi

If you’re looking for something with a decent shelf-life and convenient delivery system, tube wasabi is the way to go. Tube wasabi is already perfectly balanced in terms of moisture content and is ready to use as a dip for things like sushi, steak or sashimi. Tube wasabi is probably the spiciest and most concentrated in terms of flavor, but does not possess very much in terms of fragrance. Tube wasabi is the friendliest in terms of price, however and is a great way to spice things up without breaking the bank.

Powder Wasabi