The sad fact is, if you are a sushi lover, then you probably never actually tasted real wasabi. Even if you have gone to dozens of sushi restaurants, you may still never have had the real thing.
In America, an enormous amount of wasabi is just a quick mix of horseradish, hot mustard and a hint of green dye. The American Chemical Society has done multiple tests on different brands of wasabi found throughout the United States and their conclusion was pretty damning. Acord to their statistics a shocking 99% of all wasabi is fake.
Surely though, if you have been to Japan. The home of sushi and where the wasabi culture originates from, then you must have tasted the real thing? Where cheap sushi can be found at prices between $10 to $20, luxury sushi meals in boutique restaurants can quickly jump up to $300. In fact, you may even wait a year to be served by some of the top sushi chefs. In these high prices restaurants with premium quality fish, the wasabi must be true?
Unfortunately, you would still be wrong. Experts believe even in Japan 95% of the time you are eating an imitation of the real thing. So why can’t you find the authentic real wasabi anywhere?
The answer is that it is simply very difficult to make. It is not an easy plant to grow and comes in at about $160 a kilogram. Imagine going out for a meal and the most expensive item being a sauce? Real wasabi comes just from the stem of the plant, which has to be grated down and smashed into a paste. And you can’t even prepare it in advance. It has to be eaten within 15 mins of being freshly grated or otherwise, it just will not have that spicy taste.
That is why most places will just stick to the fake, you can have already and it will keep fresh. Don’t worry though the horseradish chemical makeup still keeps that signature spicy zing!