An essential condiment for sushi and sashimi where freshness is crucial
A quintessentially Japanese herb with a unique spiciness growing wild near clear streams. The grated roots are used with sushi and sashimi, or even chilled soba noodles. Wasabi is cultivated nowadays, but wild grown wasabi is considered a luxury. The wasabi paste that comes in a tube is most commonly used. Wasabi's spiciness is volatile. The flavor weakens and the spiciness drops the longer the wasabi is exposed to air.
Allyl isothiocyanate, which gives wasabi it's pungent spiciness, is a known antibacterial agent, as such wasabi is usually offered with raw foods such as sashimi. Its unique aroma comes from the infused wasabiol. Goes well with steaks.
Wasabi has a long history of use as a food ingredient. In fact, there are written records of people gathering wild wasabi as far back as the Kamakura period (1185-1333). Nowadays, wild wasabi is very highly prized.