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Wasabi rhizomes are ready to enjoy!

After waiting 2 years, it finally arrived - harvest day for the rhizomes. Zak made his way to the polytunnel and chose a wasabi plant to dig up. He carefully dug his spade next to a bushy green wasabi plant and began to lift it out. During the lifting, he held on to a big rhizome and placed the whole plant on to the bench. The next step was to remove most of the soil and gravel from the ball of roots. Then he used a hosepipe to clean the roots and while doing this he saw the prized rhizome. He carefully removed the stems and leaves from the crown and began to cut the roots from the rhizome. There was not just one rhizome, he also managed to remove 3 smaller ones.

Furthermore, he removed several off-shoots from the rhizomes and placed them in a bucket to plant later in order to grow more wasabi rhizomes. Throughout the day, Zak managed to dig up 51 rhizomes of many different sizes ranging from 20 grams to the biggest which was 170 g. The trimmed rhizome went into a bowl ready for washing in cold running cold water. The trimmed fresh wasabi rhizomes were then prepared and vacuum packed to deliver to our customers. Zak decided to try one of the rhizomes. He chose a small rhizome which was about 20 grams in weight and began to grate it into a paste. He knew that you must leave it for 5 minutes while the enzymes start to work and produce the wasabi kick. After waiting, he placed a dab on his tongue and it nearly blew his head off, but overall it was a pleasant experience. The taste was zingy and it went straight to his sinuses. He really enjoyed it. If you would like to buy some, please visit the Wasabi Crop Shop! I have to go now and help dig up more rhizomes; it would be great to beat the British record of 377 g! 

Enjoy your fresh wasabi – providing new foods for your table!

Sofia Kitson, Blogger

 


Fresh wasabi leaves and stems

What is great about a wasabi plant is that you can eat every part of it. This includes the leaves and stems, the prized rhizomes and even the edible flowers. The leaves can be used to put the punch back into an ordinary salad. It just adds enough wasabi flavour to bring about the zingy heat. These crunchy large heart-shaped wasabi leaves and stems are delicious and highly in demand outside Japan. The heat of wasabi is more prominent in stems than leaves but overall the heat is always much more significant in the prized rhizome. What better than having your own wasabi plant growing in a pot or in your back garden. While you are waiting for the rhizome, you can have a continuous supply of fresh wasabi leaves and stems. Just cut off the leaves and place in your favourite sandwich to enjoy the wasabi experience.

During the growing cycle of the wasabi plant in your garden, you will be surprised to see the large heart-shaped leaves spring out about 50 cm in length and the busy plant could spread out to a metre in width. So, make show you allow them enough space so you can cut off the leaves and stems at different times to obtain small to large heart-shaped leaves to eat. These leaves are very nutritious and good for your health with many medicinal properties such as antibacterial effects. However, while the plant is still growing the leaves will die back during the winter season as nature concentrates on forming a swollen stem called the rhizome or as sometimes referred to as wasabi root. These wasabi plants will survive temperatures as low as –5ºC and just remember to keep them in a shady place. 

Enjoy your fresh wasabi – providing new foods for your table!

Sofia Kitson, Blogger

 


Pickled Wasabi Zuke

Wasabi Zuke is a popular pickled dish served in Japan and can be prepared by using all parts of the wasabi plant. It is a typical dish cultivated in the Shizuoka Prefecture which is the home of wasabi in Japan. It is prepared by chopping by mixing cultivated leaves, flowers, leafstalks and the ground roots with saltwater, sake and sugar. Wasabi Zuke can be a great dinner dish or even a suitable side dish, especially with beverages. These types of dishes are called kasuzuke (food pickled in the lees from sake brewing). Merchants developed wasabi Zuke in Fuchu, modern-day Shizuoka: this cuisine flourished in the Edo Period.

A traditional Japanese recipe for wasabi zuke

Wasabi Zuke it is a rare and expensive delicacy

The following recipe will serve 6-8 people – depending on your portion size

You will require:

Fresh wasabi rhizomes: 375 g

Wasabi leaves and stems: 375 g

Sake kasu/sake white lees: 500 g

Salt: 37 g

Sugar: 120 g

Mirin/sweet sake: optional

Directions:

  1. First, chop up the fresh wasabi stems
  2. Mix the chopped stems and roots together
  3. Then add the salt, mix well and rest for 20 minutes
  4. Remove most of the water by pressing the mixture
  5. Soften the mixture by adding sake lees
  6. Add the sugar
  7. Mix the whole mixture by hand to produce a paste
  8. Taste and then add more sake if required
  9. Fill small containers with the wasabi zuke

The fresh wasabi zuke can be served steamed white rice, baked poultry, sausages or what ever dish you desire

Enjoy your fresh wasabi – providing new foods for your table!

Sofia Kitson, Blogger

 

 


Growing Wasabi in Northern Ireland

At present, Wasabi Crop is one of two commercial growers in the United Kingdom and the only producer in Northern Ireland. Our aim is to grow fresh wasabi rhizomes, leaves and stems to serve all of our customers. The wasabi varieties include Mazuma and Daruma. Wasabi Crop is based in County Armagh, home of the Bramley apple and a source of rich agricultural land which is perfect for our business.

Wasabi is a challenging plant to grow and is otherwise known as the 'King of Herbs.' That is the reason why most people have not tried real wasabi. The green stuff served with your food is not wasabi but a mixture of horseradish coloured with green food dye and flavoured with mustard.

Real wasabi has a complex flavour profile and is one of the world's most rare and expensive crops. It is mostly grown in the stream of the mountain regions of Japan. We grow the wasabi in our Wasabi Crop Growing Facility to replicate the conditions in Japan. Wasabi does not like too much light so we use 80% shaded cloth as would be the case in growing mushrooms. Another factor the plants require to grow in well-drained soil with a pH range of 6 to 7.

It was Zak's idea to grow wasabi from the age of 14. However, his original idea was to grow rare garden plants in our greenhouse would not be cost-effective. So I told him to think of another crop to grow and after some research, he came across the medicinal herb wasabi. He told me that wasabi was grown in Japan and used on raw fish because of its antibacterial properties.  This is in addition to having anti-inflammatory and as recent research suggests possible anti-cancer properties.

We learnt that wasabi first appeared in the Honzowamyo dictionary of Japanese Names of Living Things, which was compiled by Fukane Sukehito in the year of 918. Its entry described the medicinal properties of the plant and at that time was known as wild ginger. Interestingly, Wasabi cultivation in Japan has continued for over a thousand years.

The wasabi flavour is the result of a volatile compound called allyl isothiocyanate (AITC). The volatile AITC is released when the rhizome undergoes mechanical damage from grating to produce the wasabi kick. 

Enjoy your fresh wasabi – providing new foods for your table!

Sofia Kitson, Blogger

WASABI CROP BLOG

My name is Sofia and I am the Blogger for Wasabi Crop.  The aim to share our experiences using freshly grown wasabi for cooking and letting our customers know how we are progressing with the growing of wasabi rhizomes, leaves and stems.