Wasabi – home grown

I couldn't believe my eyes. I was wandering around my local garden centre looking for tomato plants when I spotted a familiar shaped plant. I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was – an odd type of rhubarb, perhaps.

I went closer to read the label. Surely not! Wasabia Japonica. A proper wasabi plant.

Now, I have been lucky enough to visit the top area for wasabi in Japan, the Izuu peninsula south of Mount Fuji, and seen a whole mountain valley filled with wasabi plants. I'd learned how temperamental wasabi was to cultivate, requiring a constant source of running water kept at a temperature of around twelve-thirteen degrees celcius. The plants literally sit on the bed of a shallow river, bringing the softest cleanest water down from the mountain top.

How on earth could wasbi grow in a pot, in Europe? Well, it does, and here's the proof:

 Not sure what to do with it now. I've nibbled a leaf, and it tastes just like the ones I tried in Japan – where they pickle them and use them in salads. But I am itching to dig it up and see what the root is like. There is nothing like fresh grated wasabi root – as I say in the book, it is to the fake, sinus-scorching Kermit green paste you usually get in sushi restaurants in the west, as fake snow is to the real stuff.

Looks like my treasured but seldom used shark skin-covered wasabi grater will be seeing some use soon…


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  1. 1
    Colin Henley

    Glad to hear you found a Wasabi plant outside Japan, Michael! Myself and three friends, all of us food-lovers, have just completed a three week stint in Japan, during which three of us read ‘Sushi & Beyond’ and talked about and referred to it constantly – our catch cry was ‘he talks about it in the book’ – so much so that I’m pretty sure the fourth member of our party, whom hasn’t yet read it, probably feels like he has! Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that we all loved your book – it gave us so much to talk about during out trip. And we all agree that fresh wasabi tastes so much better than the fake stuff!
    All the best,
    Colin Henley
    (Perth, Western Australia)

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