Obsessed with the Wasabi
October 27, 2008 10:59 PM   Subscribe

Help me cure my Wasabi craving!

A few years ago, I was introduced to Wasabi. After being a lifelong fan of anything hot and spicy, unfortunately, years of self-abuse have rendered my stomach useless for digesting any sort of solid (capsaicin) pepper. I still am able to digest several hot sauces, most likely due to the fact that vinegar is used in their preparation, but not peppers, either cooked or raw.

Enter Wasabi. I love it. Help me find it! FYI I also cannot easily digest the popular wasabi-flavored peas, which to my understanding really has a much higher percentage of mustard and horseradish than Wasabi anyways. (Legumes and I do not mix, except for peanuts).

My google-fu fails me and I have looked on the Mefi.

What I am looking for:

1) Wasabi-flavored cashews (again, mustard and horseradish are the main seasoning agents, but HOLY MOLY are they good).

2) Wasabi chips. Not the flavored chips (which are decent and I can easily find on the internet) but the actual 'chips' that are composed from the leaf of the plant, (sometimes battered) and then deep fried. Once I played a show in San Fransisco with a Japanese noise band, and the singer had a bag of these, that came with it's own Wasabi-hot sauce, much akin to the southern snack of BBQ'd pork rinds that include a bag of hot sauce. These are the priority.

3) I'm not a sushi fan, though I have been eating more of it since I discovered my new found love. The local Sushi restaurant will not sell me any Wasabi that they use in preparation, though they do sell some cheap crap at the counter. "Too dangerous," they say. I have implored them to no avail and I can't afford 15 dollars for takeout every time I get the urge.

4) A recommendation for a good paste (via the internet).

5) Actual Wasabi plants, either cured, fresh, or however they sell them.

Also, if anyone knows of any other Wasabi products, by all means let me know. I am in Racine, Wisconsin, and am willing to travel to either Milwaukee or Chicago. Internet mail-order will work also.

Thank you, my Wasabi loving brothers and sisters.
posted by peewinkle to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
This is exactly what I have in my freezer right now; I can't promise that it is actual wasabi root, but it is a brand that Japanese people use, and I'm pretty sure you can find it or a very similar brand in most Asian food stores. It is VASTLY superior to anything you can get in an American sushi restaurant. So if Racine doesn't have one, go for Milwaukee or Wisconsin ... or go on a shopping spree from that seller to get your shipping's worth.

Also, if you're tired of sushi, a dish that tastes great with wasabi is classic chilled soba. Delicious.
posted by bettafish at 11:19 PM on October 27, 2008

Best answer: Trader Joe's (sometimes) carries wasabi cashews. Call first and ask if they are in stock before embarking upon a lengthy trip.

My local Japanese grocery store sometimes carries fresh wasabi root but getting it mail order from Oregon or Vancouver B.C will be easier. If you're worried about the authenticity of West coast wasabi, they export their wasabi to Japan.
posted by jamaro at 11:22 PM on October 27, 2008

All the wasabi you have ever eaten, even if you have had sushi in San Francisco and Tokyo, is really just horseradish plus food coloring*, so you might want to expand your hunt to include horseradish-flavored things. That could expand the shopping list somewhat.

* Yes, it is. Please do not attack me, gentle readers, before you look into this.
posted by rokusan at 11:46 PM on October 27, 2008

Oh, most Asian groceries (Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai at least) have wasabi flavored cracker nuts, which are batter-coated peanuts. Similar to your cashews, though probably cheaper (75 cents per bag or so) and highly addictive.
posted by rokusan at 11:57 PM on October 27, 2008

Best answer: real wasabi has everything you need... I think.
posted by magikker at 11:58 PM on October 27, 2008

rokusan -- not true! I spent some months in Tokyo for work. *Some* sushi places actually grated wasabi from the root right in front of my eyes. Divine. And certainly different enough that you could definitely tell.
posted by R343L at 12:02 AM on October 28, 2008

I exaggerated, R343L, yes. I should have said "Almost certainly all the wasabi..."

Most wasabi I have had in Japan has also been the fake kind. The fake kind is fine, of course, especially for purposes of this question, when it's just wasabi-flavor the asker is after, so I thought it would be best to look for explicitly-labeled horseradish flavor, too.

Since it's expensive and tough to work with, I doubt that many wasabi-flavored items would bother to use the correct root. It would be sort of pointless/wasteful of them.
posted by rokusan at 12:24 AM on October 28, 2008

Best answer: I salute your enthusiasm for this perky root. Just know that it warms the blood and works also as a blood cleaner. That said - ENJOY your treats here.
posted by watercarrier at 3:18 AM on October 28, 2008

Hot diggity - found another cool site - IT'S HERE!
posted by watercarrier at 3:19 AM on October 28, 2008

Best answer: As far as S&B stuff is concerned, don't get the normal stuff that was linked above. Make sure you look for the stuff that says 生わさび on the tube (that first character means "raw" or "fresh" and indicates that it contains actual wasabi). The easiest way to tell it's the real deal is:
1. It's more brown than Mountain-Dew-green.
2. It has a flavor.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:36 AM on October 28, 2008

After being a lifelong fan of anything hot and spicy, unfortunately, years of self-abuse have rendered my stomach useless for digesting any sort of solid (capsaicin) pepper.

I remember when it just grew hair on your palms.

But seriously, I don't get this. My mother in law is near 80 and piles on the hot salsa, sauce or hot-chile whatever and my theory is this is what holds her together. Are you saying that eating hot chiles brought you to this pass?
posted by telstar at 4:37 AM on October 28, 2008

Best answer: Pacific Farms also sells real wasabi. While I agree with bettafish that it is superior to the "other kind" of wasabi, you should also be aware that it tastes different, and the heat is different as well (a little sharper, a lot faster). So don't go out and by kilos of it before you know what you're getting.

My favorite local sushi proprietor once told me that he used to shell out for the good stuff, but too many customers complained that it didn't taste like wasabi. So now he gives it to you if you make a point of asking for it.
posted by Gorgik at 6:24 AM on October 28, 2008

Real Wasabi Nuts - to order
posted by watercarrier at 6:34 AM on October 28, 2008

Real wasabi is extremely good but it lacks the spiciness of the powder/tube varieties. I am not really sure why, but the flavor is worth it.

You may want to check into some wasabi flavored salad dressings. I have had a few that even if you hate wasabi you could get addicted too.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 6:45 AM on October 28, 2008

Response by poster: Great answers, all, THANKS!

I just placed a few different orders and will (deliciously) research the differences between the real thing and the horseradish/mustard style. When I conclude my findings, I will be sure and post my blog about them on the fp!

And telstar, no, my insides are not screwed up from hot stuff, but rather years of alcohol and substance abuse. That is one of the reasons I am seeking out the real deal, for it's purported medicinal properties.
posted by peewinkle at 6:52 AM on October 28, 2008

Please do follow up for us, peewinkle! AskMe's need more closure. :)
posted by rokusan at 6:56 AM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you pass by an asian market, at least a bigger one, you should be able to find tinned wasabi powder (like this), which you can mix up to paste with a little water or, I imagine, sprinkle it on chips as you desire. Just be careful when you open the tin as you can end up with airborne wasabi dust, which can, of course, be inhaled.
posted by beerbajay at 7:28 AM on October 28, 2008

airborne wasabi dust, which can, of course, be inhaled

I take it you're not advocating this practice?
posted by flabdablet at 9:11 AM on October 28, 2008

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