The perfect tartan accompaniment to a kilted night out for sushi, along with soy sauce and pickled ginger, is wasabi (Japanese horseradish). Interestingly, one rarely encounters the real thing outside Japan due to availability and pricing and its ephemeral tasting properties. Wasabi's spicy effect comes from a chemical reaction that occurs after grating, but this reaction is short lived. After 5 minutes the spicy flavour peaks and by 30 minutes almost all the flavour is gone. For these reasons, one is most likely to be familiar with "western wasabi" a mixture of white horseradish, mustard, starch, and green food coloring or spinach powder. Regardless, because the burning sensations of horseradishes are not oil-based, they are short-lived compared to the effects of capsaicin in chili peppers, and are washed away with more food or liquid. Inhaling or sniffing wasabi vapor has an effect like smelling salts, a property exploited by researchers attempting to create a wasaabi-vapor smoke alarm for the deaf! 🍣🥢
Today is the day to enjoy sushi, particularly with the Japanese horseradish condiment known as wasabi.
This tartan, designed by Carol A.L. Martin, contrasts the cool of the wasabi's color with the warmth of its "bite" and its pickled ginger accompaniment.
The stem of the wasabi plant, a member of the Brassicaceae family, is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong pungency more akin to hot mustard than the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapours that stimulate the nasal passages more than the tongue. The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan.
Because the burning sensations of wasabi are not oil-based, they are short-lived compared to the effects of chili peppers, and are washed away with more food or liquid. The sensation is felt primarily in the nasal passage and can be quite painful depending on the amount consumed. Inhaling or sniffing wasabi vapor has an effect like smelling salts, a property exploited by researchers attempting to create a smoke alarm for the deaf.
For more on the many health benefits of wasabi, click the sushi.