Q: What is the best way to store fresh wasabi?

A popular accompaniment to Japanese cuisine, Wasabi (Japanese horseradish) packs a punch similar to a very hot mustard. While hot enough to separate the boys from the men, wasabi doesn’t coat the tongue, so even after a good dose you won’t lose the more subtle flavours of the dish.

Notoriously difficult to grow, Wasabi hasn’t always been well represented in Australia. So it is no surprise that when Tasmanian producer Shima Wasabi won the ‘From the Earth’ category at the 2011 delicious Produce Awards, iconic chef Cheong Liew was quoted as saying “at last we have the real thing for our sashimi”.

Based in Northern Tasmania, Shima Wasabi uses a hydroponic system that mimics the Japanese water farming process, giving chefs year round access to authentic, top quality wasabi stems, leaves and stalks.

Stephen Welsh from Shima Wasabi says that preparation is key to getting an intense paste from the stems, “when you grate wasabi a complex chemical reaction takes place. If you don’t get the texture right, you don’t get that wonderful wasabi flavour”. His tips:

  •  grate fresh to serve
  •  use a traditional sharkskin or wooden board that allows you to grate very finely
  •  mix the paste on the board as you grate
  •  when you have the desired amount let it sit for 2-3 minutes prior to serving- this is crucial as it allows the full chemical reaction to take place

Not to be left out, the glossy green leaves and leaf stalks of fresh wasabi can be used to bring a milder, crunchy wasabi hit to seafood dishes and salads.

A: While grated wasabi is past its best in less than an hour, unused wasabi stems can be kept for up to three weeks if stored properly. Wrap the stem in paper towel and put in an airtight bag or container. Replace the paper towel every few days. The leaves and leaf stalks can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.