Wasabi Rhizomes are Central to Japanese Cooking
Wasabi ワサビ田 (Wasabia japonica Matsum, sometimes referred to as Eutrema wasabia M.) is the 'King of Herbs' and only indigenous to Japan. The Honzo-wamyo (Japanese Names of Living Things) is a collection of 18 volumes of 1,025 types of plants including animals and minerals. This encyclopedia was written in the year 918 by Fukane Sukehito in the Heian period (794-1185) and describes wasabi as a medicinal plant which at the time was known as wild ginger. Wasabi cultivation in Japan has continued for over a thousand years.
During the Keicho period (1596-1615), the majority of wasabi cultivation was carried out on the Abe River in Shizuoka prefecture in central Japan. During this time wasabi was entirely consumed by the Japanese higher class and was governed by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). The distribution of wasabi in Japan ranges from Sakhalin Island, a large Russian island in the North Pacific Ocean to the most northernly region of Japan called Hokkaido and extending to Kyushu.
The area of Japan which produces the highest yields of real wasabi is the Shimane prefecture. Outside Japan, wasabi is grown in New Zealand, Taiwan, Korea, Israel, Brazil, Thailand, Columbia, Canada, USA, England and Wasabi Crop Northern Ireland.
Wasabi is a member of the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) family of crops and mainly consists of brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, bok choy, horseradish and the seeds of black mustard (Brassica nigra).
During the two year growth cycle of wasabi a swollen stem known as a rhizome will be produced. The rhizome connects to several petioles producing deep green heart shaped leaves and these contain some of the pungent taste associated with wasabi. Today, Japan produces several types of rhizomes and they include Midori, Sanpoo, Takai, Shimane, Izawa, Medeka, Mazuma and Daruma. These wasabi varieties are a product from the Shizuoka and Shimane prefectures including Nagano Japan. In addition Hangen wasabi is cultivated from the Kanagawa prefecture. Daio Wasabi Farm