Real wasabi from Oregon 本物のオレゴン州産山葵大根

japanese cake

Real wasabi root is wonderful stuff especially if you compare it to the fake kinds you get in a tube or in powder form. That stuff is mostly made from Western horse radish and artificial coloring. (Freshly grated horse radish is wonderful stuff in its own right but it is not wasabi). Real wasabi daikon (root of wasabi plant or wasabi Rhizomes) have been produced in the U.S. especially in Oregon for some time. We got wasabi daikon from “Real wasabi” once  (before we started this blog) but it stopped selling fresh wasabi daikon and, instead, only sold prepared and frozen real wasabi-in-a-tube, real wasabi powder and real wasabi containing dressings. The prepared frozen wasabi-in-a-tube is not bad but it has some additives and became dry making it difficult to squeeze out of the tube which I posted before. To my delight, this company re-started selling fresh Rhizomes. The problem is that the smallest unit they sell is 1/2 lb. that is too much to use it up before it spoils unless you are running a sushi bar. (I was told it can be frozen but I have not tried it) and the shipping becomes almost as expensive as the wasabi when ordering the smallest unit.

When I ordered “matsutake” 松茸 from Oregon Mushroom, I found that they also sell wasabi rhizomes in 2 oz increment (2 oz is about one rhizome). I took advantage of this offer and ordered some wasabi with the fresh matsutake and other fresh mushrooms.

The above is a 2 oz wasabi daikon. It arrived with some discoloration on the surface which needed to be shaved off and cleaned but otherwise it was in OK shape. Traditionally, you are supposed to use a shark skin grater for grating a wasabi daikon but I used a porcelain grater which works just fine. After removing the skin from the portion to be grated, I used a nice circular motion to grate it. The enzymatic action develops the flavors and spiciness. The initial aroma is especially wonderful which can be only experienced when you grate it yourself. I planned an evening centered around fresh wasabi.

I tried to get good fresh tuna sashimi from Catalina Offshore products coinciding with the arrival of the wasabi rhizome but fresh sashimi blue fin tuna has been out of stock at Catalina for some time, so I resorted to my backup frozen saku (block) of yellowfin tuna.

I started with tuna nametrou なめろう but added fresh grated wasabi.

This is a mixture of nattou, tuna cubes and egg yolk 卵黄マグロ納豆 (from a pasteurized shell egg) with fresh wasabi.

Cubes of tuna and avocado 鮪とアボカドの角切り with fresh wasabi.

If you have not tasted freshly ground real wasabi, you are missing a lot. The fresh wasabi does have some heat but it is much fresher and flavorful than the stuff served at sushi bars that cleans out your sinuses. All these “usual” suspects I prepared as driking snacks got upgraded one notch by simply adding fresh wasabi!

In between these dishes above, we also had baked marinated tofu and one more dish to follow (to be continued).

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