What Is Wasabi and What Does It Taste Like?
Wasabi (which is also called Japanese horseradish) is a plant of the family Brassicaceae which includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. Rhizomes and leaves are edible.
Wasabi paste is made by ground rhizomes of wasabi just like the picture below.
Wasabi has very unique scent and pungent taste, and mostly used as condiments when eating sashimi, sushi, soba noodles, steak, etc.
Also, people often mix wasabi with other seasonings such as soy sauce and mayonnaise to make original pungent sauce (dressing) which matches so well with salad and various dishes.
Real Wasabi VS Wasabi Paste in Tube
It’s always great to have fresh wasabi paste made by real wasabi rhizome. But the plant is rarely in distribution even in Japan, and it’s mostly very expensive. So, Japanese usually buy wasabi paste in tube at stores.
This paste contains not only wasabi rhizome, but also other seasonings to avoid losing the spiciness and flavor of wasabi.
Anyway, if you want one, the wasabi paste in tube is easier to find and very useful item for cooking.
Grated real wasabi rhizome has milder pungent taste than the wasabi in tube, by the way.
Good Substitutes for Wasabi
If you can’t find any wasabi in tube at stores, or if you are not good at the smell of wasabi or something… it’s time to try substitute for it!
Here, I want to introduce 6 substitutes for wasabi paste.
Ginger is also very common condiment that used widely in Japan.
Although ginger has different type of pungent taste from wasabi, unique taste and flavor of ginger matches so well especially with sashimi. It can take away the strong smell of fish too.
One of the most popular dish eaten with grated ginger is bonito sashimi (see the picture below). I bet other types of fish will go very well with it as well!
Horseradish is called Western wasabi in Japan, and not very often but sometimes used as condiment in Western dishes such as steak.
This is categorized in the same family as wasabi, and has very similar taste to wasabi.
I think horseradish has milder taste than wasabi, so it’s easier to eat it. Also, it slightly has sour taste that gives accent to the dish.
Karashi is also categorized in the same family as wasabi, and has strong pungent taste.
The unique flavor of karashi is amazing and it’s very popular condiment in Japan when eating oden, meat bun, chashu, etc.
The yellow color of karashi is totally different from wasabi, so you may think it seems like similar to mustard. But the taste is more like wasabi actually! If you have a chance, please try to use it as a substitute for wasabi.
空馬のおやじ亭で家飲み🍺🍶— 空馬のおやじ (@I0u1ylSc90FQQv4) September 12, 2020
I guess, this is more familiar item with you… isn’t it?
Mustard is well-known, popular seasoning (condiment) all over the world, and as you may know it’s so good with hot dog, hamburger, chicken, etc.
This mustard is actually called Western karashi in Japan, and can be substitute for wasabi! Unlike Japanese karashi, mustard contains vinegar, sugar, and other materials. Actually, that will work better in some time.
It totally depends on your taste, but if you love mustard, you should try it with some Japanese cuisine instead of wasabi. I hope you would like it!
晩飯は鰹の刺身をマスタードのソースで♪ pic.twitter.com/hT8Li2QDDg— Uchikoshi 50/50(*_*) (@uchikoshi0705) April 8, 2017
5. Hot Daikon (Karami Daikon)
Hot daikon is smaller, less succulent, and has more pungent taste than normal daikon.
This pungent taste is absolutely great feature as substitute. In addition, since daikon has very light and simple taste, everybody could taste it so easy. Please grate it when using hot daikon as a substitute.
I would say you can also substitute normal daikon for wasabi. Because some of them are really hot (pungent) when you grate it. It depends on the product, so if you can find hot daikon (called karami daikon) at stores, that’s great. If you can’t, normal daikon is still okay to use as a substitute. Normal daikon is succulent, so please remove water from grated daikon well before eating it.
この間飲み屋で食べた— aya (@ao_iroenpitu) December 14, 2018
6. Yuzu Pepper
Yuzu is one of the most popular Japanese citrus, and has unbelievably great scent. Yuzu pepper is made from skin of yuzu and green chili. Its taste is neither like peppers nor hot. This is more like salty and very fruity (citrus flavor) condiment.
Because the way people use yuzu pepper is very similar to that of wasabi, for example, eating it with steak, sashimi, and noodle dishes, I’m sure you will like yuzu pepper as the substitute for wasabi!
By the way, people in Kyushu region, Japan often use this yuzu pepper instead of wasabi.
まぁ、今夜はこれを試してみたかったのだ．．．。— IMO＠レンタルスタジオ事業始めました！ご利用&お仕事受付中 (@imochan512) October 23, 2017