11 Classic and Traditional Japanese Dishes Featuring Wasabi
The Japanese condiment wasabi has made its way across the globe, and today we’ve got a selection of dishes for you, ranging from classics of the country’s cuisine that use wasabi to regional Japanese dishes rich in wasabi flavor. If you happen to catch sight of any of these as you travel Japan, be sure to give it a try and enjoy the authentic flavor of wasabi in its homeland! Photo: http://wasudachi.exblog.jp/17677453
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi is indispensible as one of the “flavors of Japan.” Also called Japanese horseradish, true wasabi is sometimes referred to as “hon-wasabi” in Japanese to differentiate it from the horseradish used in Western foods. It has an ancient history, and records show that it was already in use during the Nara period (710–794). Characterized by a crisp spiciness that fills the nose in a way no other condiment does, wasabi has both antibacterial and deodorizing properties, which is why (as you’ve probably heard) it’s used in sushi. The wasabi that we eat as a condiment is made from the ground-up root of the wasabi plant.
Classic Japanese Dishes Using Wasabi
As many children dislike the flavor of wasabi, it’s standard practice for conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan to serve wasabi-less sushi.
Related: Sharing the Ins and Outs of the Japanese Conveyor Belt Sushi Shop (Sushiro)
2. Sashimi (Sliced Raw Fish)
・Melt the wasabi in the soy sauce: though it weakens the flavor of the wasabi, it makes the soy sauce that much more delicious.
・Put the wasabi on the sashimi: this lets you enjoy the fullness of wasabi’s flavor profile.
3. Soba (Buckwheat Noodles)
Wasabi isn’t just for Japanese cuisine. It goes great with foods like roast beef or even avocadoes! It’s been said that French chefs have even used wasabi as an ingredient in their sauces to better bring out the flavor of their ingredients.
Dishes with Wasabi as a Main Ingredient
4. Wasabi Rice Bowl
A simple dish made from rice, wasabi, bonito flakes, dashi (fish stock), and soy sauce, this rice bowl stars wasabi as its main ingredient.
5. Wasabi-maki (Sushi Roll)
Also called namida-maki (roll of tears), this sushi roll has only the one filling: wasabi.
Learn about its etymology here: 36 Words from the Sushi Lingo of Professionals
6. Wasabi Chazuke
Chazuke is a dish where Japanese green tea is poured over rice topped with ingredients like sashimi, seaweed, and sesame seeds. This version takes wasabi as its primary ingredient.
Related: Furikake: Magical flakes that make rice delicious
7. Wasabi-zuke (Pickles)
Good as a dinner dish or even as a side with drinks, this is a type of kasuzuke (food pickled in the lees from sake brewing) dreamt up by the merchants of the late Edo period.
Regional Dishes Using Wasabi
8. Wasabi Lotus Root
Green: wasabi lotus root; pink: cherry blossom lotus root; yellow: mustard lotus root, http://ekimachi1-kumamoto.com/
There is a dish native to Kumamoto Prefecture called mustard lotus root, where the holes of the root are filled with ground mustard seeds. This is an alternate version that uses wasabi instead of mustard as a filling.
9. Hitsumabushi (Grilled Eel on Rice)
An item of cuisine local to Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, this is (to describe it simply) a kind of chazuke made with conger eel.
Find out more here: 7 Japanese Foods Associated with the Coming of Summer + 11 Helpful Tips
10. Jibuni (Simmered Duck Stew)
Freshly-ground wasabi and duck make a seriously amazing combination, so when eating this regional treat from Kanazawa, wasabi is absolutely indispensible.
11. Wasabi Ice Cream
This startling ice cream flavor is thought to have got its start in Shizuoka, which is famous as a wasabi-producing region. Against expectations, it’s actually quite delicious, so be sure to try it for yourself if you head to Shizuoka!