Your Sushi Wasabi Isn't Actually Wasabi
If you think you like wasabi... You may want to think again.
Those dollops of green you see on sushi platters around the world are rarely what their name suggests!
What sushi restaurants actually serve is a horseradish-based concoction mixed with green food coloring, various types of mustard, and often times other chemicals.
According to this article on the Washington Post's website, Trevor Corson, the author of The Story of Sushi: An Unlikely Saga of Raw Fish and Rice, it's just horseradish, mustard extract, citric acid, yellow dye no.5, and blue dye no.1. The 'wasabi' comes in big industrial bags as a powder, and the chefs mix it with water before serving to make a paste.
Real wasabi comes from the stem of the wasabi plant, which grows to nearly 2 feet long! This difficult to harvest plant is often sold by the stem and served freshly grated. It is said to have a more delicate, complex, and sweeter flavor than the fake wasabi.
Interesting Fact: Pacific Coast Wasabi is North America's only commercial grower of high quality, water grown, authentic wasabi.
Very few people have tried real wasabi because of how rare it truly is. The reason why real and fresh wasabi is so rare? An issue of economics. There's a lot more demand than there is supply. Wasabi root is hard to grow and handle, therefore selling it would mean charging more than most are willing to pay.
So, the industry made the cheaper alternative.
I don't know about you, but now it's on my bucket list to find and try real wasabi!