Why the Wasabi You’ve Eaten Probably Isn’t Real Wasabi

Many foreigners outside of Japan have eaten wasabi, but the wasabi they have eaten is most likely not authentic.

On YouTube, Great Big Story uploaded a video explaining why the wasabi we eat is fake. Because wasabi is a difficult plant to grow, imported wasabi is made up of horseradish that is dyed green. However, the taste is quite different between the two.

Filmed in Hotaka, workers at the Daio Wasabi Farm explain the complicated procedure for growing authentic wasabi plants. Planting takes a year and three months. They harvest around 300,000 to 400,000 plants a year. If harvesting fails, it’s going to take another year and three months to gather a new batch.

This is how a garden full of wasabi plants look like. Source: Ryu K

For these plants to grow, they need just the right amount of sunlight. The most important element is spring water that is between 13 to 18 degrees Celsius. Due to these reasons, most of us have been eating horseradish as an alternative. The part of the plant used to make wasabi is the stem, called the rhizone. If you want to try authentic wasabi, the only method is to go to Japan and buy the Wasabia Japonica plant.

The rhizone is being ground on a sharkskin grater to create wasabi. Source: bonchan

Watch the video below!