A UK firm claims to be the first European country to grow wasabi successfully and has set up a company to supply chefs with the plants from fresh.
After three years of development work, The Wasabi Company has managed to grow and cultivate fresh wasabi in the UK, which, until now, has not been grown in Europe. The wasabi rhizomes (underground plant with roots and shoots), as they are known, can be grated into a fine paste to be used in a number of different dishes or served alongside them to bring heat to a dish. Typically used in Japanese cooking, it can be paired with sushi and sashimi and added to miso soup, but has a range of uses where a dish requires some heat.
Now it is grown in the UK, The Wasabi Company's fresh wasabi has less food miles to travel. It is ready to eat straight after being grated and is 100 per cent wasabi, whereas many wasabi pastes include other ingredients. The variant grown by The Wasabi Company is Sawa which is reputedly the purest, sweetest, hottest and healthiest type of wasabi.
A 50g rhizome (enough for six people to eat with sushi) is £15 plus postage and packaging. Rhizomes are available in sizes from 50g to 150g.
Because the product is a fresh one, there may be some seasonal fluctuation in availability, but the company says it will commit to supply the amount chefs want to ensure needs are met. Chefs should call 01929 463824 or email James@thewasabicompany.co.uk to source.
Why you should buy it:
For chefs looking to put fresh wasabi on the menu this would be ideal. It reportedly has a sweeter and fresher taste than the powdered or paste vairieties and the plant has been trialled already in a few kitchens, drawing praise from Michel Roux Jr and chocolatier William Curley. Gary Jones, executive head chef at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons is a particular fan, calling it 'a small miracle' with a 'pure, true flavour punch'.
Wasabi graters and brushes are available to buy priced from £6 and £2.50 respectively.