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Bia Sasta

Think you know wasabi?

Wednesday, 24th October, 2018 4:28pm

Wasabi – you know, the sharp stuff that comes in a small green tube that we think is used in Japanese cooking.

Think again – this has nothing to do with fresh wasabi and any Japanese chef worth his/her money will never touch the green tube. Until now, I wasn’t a big fan of wasabi, and I always wondered why people were so mad about it.

So when I received an invite to a wasabi showcase by Redmond Fine Foods, I was first quite reluctant but boy, am I happy to have accepted the invite. Nick Russell of The Wasabi Company UK gave a talk on what makes wasabi so interesting – first of all; every part of the plant is edible.

The leaves had a delicate flavouring of wasabi and wrapping hot smoked salmon in it was a tasty treat. Then Nick started grating the fresh wasabi, starting on the top where the leaves would start. The flavour was not as I expected with just a slight warmth to it. The root end of the plant was a different story altogether though with the sharp sting I knew just too well. Yet, the taste was not as sharp as the commercial stuff but it had depth of flavours that went straight to your head (good if you have a cold), stays there for a short while and then mellows into nothing.

The palate was quite clean and fresh which I didn’t expect. Apart from hot-smoked salmon, we tasted wasabi with beef and I was surprised how well it goes together.

But what amazed me mostly was the light pale colour fresh wasabi actually has compared to the fake stuff that shines a bright green. I also learned that the commercial ‘wasabi’ includes common horseradish to give it the heat it needs.

The Wasabi Company was originally a farm that grew watercress since the 1850s in Dorset and Hampshire. Surprisingly, watercress and wasabi need almost the same growing conditions and after some research, the family changed over to growing the Japanese favourite. It was a huge commitment on their part as the plant takes two years before it can be harvested.

Apart from the fresh wasabi, the company also produces delicious wasabi mustard and mayonnaise as well as other interesting products including a very smooth wasabi vodka distilled with seven botanicals including their fresh wasabi. The result is a smooth, fragrant vodka that doesn’t need any addition of juice or tonic. A gin is also produced but I preferred the vodka.

The wasabi and other products are available from Redmond Fine Foods or directly from The Wasabi Company’s website (apart from the lovely vodka).

On another note; we have postponed the visit to Bluebell Falls Goats Cheese Farm and have cancelled the bus, which resulted in a lower price. Check out the event on biasasta.ie/shop. And I was asked by the Wooden Spoons Cookery School near Blarney to give some classes – check out the events on Bia Sásta Facebook page.

 

Upcoming food events:

3 November Cork and Kerry Food Forum

9 November Cork Wine and Craft Beer Fair

9 November Christmas Tapas at Wooden Spoons

9 November Thermomix Demonstration

11 November Visit to Bluebell Falls Goats Farm

12 November Community Food Showcase Kilfinane

13 November Homegrown by Wade Murphy Adare

For more details on these and other upcoming food events, please go to biasasta.ie/calendar.

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