Wasabi What Is It and Why It’s Unlikely You’ve Had the Real Paste

What Is Wasabi
What Is Wasabi

What is Wasabi?

Wasabi is most known for its spicy taste and is used as a condiment to all forms of sushi. Real wasabi is produced from the rhizome of the Wasabia japonica plant. Similar to a plant stem that plants underground where you would expect to see a root.

Over the years Wasabi has become more and more popular, popping up in all mainstream restaurants and being used with all foods.

You might be upset to learn that most wasabi you’ve had isn’t actually the real thing!

What is wasabi made of?

Real wasabi — derived from the plant Wasabia japonica — is rarer than you might think. This Japanese aquatic plant is difficult to grow, making it significantly more expensive than most condiments. According to the Washington Post, adding the real stuff to your sushi might add $3 to $5 to the bill. It’s hard to imagine such a small component could be worth the price of an entire fast food meal, but you may be willing to pay for it once you’ve tasted pure wasabi. Read on to find out the facts about real wasabi — and what you’ve actually been eating, instead.

Real wasabi
Real wasabi

Most wasabi paste is fake

A surprising amount of sushi restaurants don’t serve real wasabi: The Washington Post reports that as much as 99 percent of wasabi sold in the United States is fake. It’s not just the U.S., either; specialists suspect that 95 percent of wasabi sold in Japan is imitation, too. So, if you’re not getting the real stuff, what the heck is in your fake wasabi?

The wasabi you’ll find in most restaurants and grocery stores is a blend of horseradish, mustard powder, and food colouring.

Is wasabi good for you?

Wasabi health advantages: prevents food poisoning, is naturally antiparasitic, cuts cancer risk, fights cold, checks cholesterol, prevents cavities, keeps you young, tackles respiratory disorders, manages arthritis, great for the circulatory system, curbs hypertension, and detoxifies the body.

  1. Act as cancer-fighting agents by preventing the activity of cancer-causing agents
  2. Protect cells from damage
  3. Pause overactive cells from multiplying, which can help with the prevention of cancer
  4. Similarly, cause cancerous cells to die which assists in healing from and curing cancer
  5. Keep your heart healthy and prevent heart attacks as a result
  6. Fight off chemicals that could otherwise lead to chemically derived cancers

What makes real wasabi so expensive?

The Wasabia japonica plant is especially hard to grow because it needs to be partly submerged in moving water, which is not typical with farming. wasabi grows in riverbeds around Japan. Small changes in the plant’s environment can cause damage and ruined the crop.

For the most part, wasabi comes from Japan, recently a few farms have been popping up in the US.

Wasabi Sauce Recipe
Wasabi Sauce Recipe


Wasabi Nutrition Information

1 cup of raw wasabi (130 g) contains:

  • Calories: 142 (7% of DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 30.6 g
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Fat: 0.8 g
  • Fiber: 10.1 g
  • Vitamin C: 5 mg (91% of DV)
  • Manganese: 0.5 mg (25% of DV)
  • Magnesium: 89.7 mg (22% of DV)
  • Potassium: 738 mg (21% of DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg (18% of DV)
  • Calcium: 166 mg (17% of DV)
  • Zinc: 2.1 mg (14% of DV)
  • Thiamine: 0.2 mg (11% of DV)
  • Phosphorus: 104 mg (10% of DV)
  • Copper: 0.2 mg (10% of DV)
  • Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (9% of DV)
  • Iron: 1.3 mg (7% of DV)

Wasabi Mayonnaise Sauce

Original recipe yields 4 servings
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • In a small bowl, mix wasabi powder and water to form a paste. Let sit for 1 minute, then add mayonnaise.