Quick tip: Making the most of wasabi powder

Please forgive the lack of photos - in the middle of packing, I've somehow misplaced my camera. I'm sure it will come out soon, but in the meantime here is a handy tip for bring out the best flavor in wasabi powder.

In an ideal world, I'd love to use fresh wasabi all the time. Unfortunately it's just about impossible to get fresh wasabi root here in Switzerland, and even in Japan it's pretty expensive. So, like other people I made do with wasabi powder most of the time and reserve my precious hoard of froen fresh root for special occasions.

My stepfather (who lives in Yokohama) loves sashimi, and has it for dinner every other day at least. Even when he lived in New York, he liked to indulge in sashimi. He used wasabi powder most of the time too, but had a trick to bring out the flavor in it that he has learned from an old itamae-san (sushi chef):

  • In a small bowl, reconstitute the powder with enough water so that it forms a very thick, not watery, paste.
  • Invert the bowl on a plate or on the tabletop. Leave it like that for at least 10 minutes, preferably about half an hour.

I'm not sure how or why, but when you make reconstituted wasabi that way it has a lot more flavor. This works well with reconstituted mustard powder too, so I suspect it has something to do with the mustard-flavor being trapped and getting concentrated, or something.

So if you like wasabi, give this trick a try!

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I've actually heard about this tip. The other tip I've heard, and the same goes for reconstituting Chinese Hot Mustard, is to use cold water and never hot to bring out all the heat in the finished product. Haven't tested it myself, but what do you think?

I always use cold water, never hot - for one thing hot water raises fumes which get me directly in the nasal passages!

I can't imagine why that would make a difference. I can't wait to try it and see though :)

Thanks so much for the tip!


...but that's what it says to do on the little pot of wasabi I have at home.

Don't you do that for fresh wasabi as well? But for a slightly different reason... I forget.

Hot water is "hostile to the strength-producing compounds," according to Wikipedia.

and Pow! that wasabi had a kick. Great tip. Thanks

I have wasabi in my garden. I "harvested" it for the first time yesterday (because it is getting big, and I split it to give some to friends). What is the best way to freeze it? I grated a little of it, and it is pretty good stuff, but I can't use the whole 6 inches of rhizome that I saved all at once.

You can peel and freeze the whole rhizome, and just grate it from frozen. It'll taste as good as fresh. (You may want to protect your hand somehow as you do this.)

Thanks Maki. I gave some of my roots to a guy called Yoshio at work. He was very sceptical about what could be grown in a garden here in New Zealand - but the verdict was:

"Very good quality wasabi, you should sell it to a Japanese restaurant. Mutsuko (his wife) would like some more if you have it".

But neither he nor Mutsuko had ever tried freezing it.

Your method is what I do with ginger and horseradish, I'll give it a try.

first, you get COLD water (put ice cubes in the water)
2, get the powerder (NEVER USE METAL ON WASABI it degrades its taste) put some of the water on the powerd wasabi
3, mix for better stronger taste make it as less water you can. but keep it still smooshy
4, i use a glass cup,bowl with a wood,bamboo spoon

then finaly, push the wasabi at the bottom of the bowl and pock a few holes in to it.
get a plastic wrap or the cover for the bowl then flip it over till you need to use (recomdend over 15 mins)

FOR BEST STRENGTH when mix with soy sauce mix with a big chunck but dont put to much thats crazy, when you mix, mix it for a long time and every bit of it (dont put to much to its chunchy)

*also great site

i forgot freezing/refrigate it will cause it lose some of it taste...

when it hits your head really hard DONT open your mouth breath through your nose only when eating/smelling.. >.> lol

I always mix mine in a small egg cup and cover it with plastic wrap, though I don't do the flip. I have noticed if I don't cover it, the flavor is not nearly as good. I have no idea why this is the case, but ever since I figured it out (I think it said so on the pot I had at some point as well) it's how I've always done it!

Hows does the powder wasabi compare in taste to those ready-to-eat toothpaste tubes of wasabi?

If the tube says nama wasabi (生わさび)it's real wasabi, and is better than powder, but of course much more expensive. Though it's really not close to real real freshly grated wasabi.

Very informative, thanks for the tip. I use the wasabi paste all the time and thought of trying to use the powder one.

Sometimes the simple things make the biggest difference.

The Wasabi powder I get here has only instructions to "combine equal parts water and powder in bowl."

The less water and the inversion trick. has really brought the Wasabi powder to life! Wonder why this works?

Thanks for the great tip, Maki!

Like with horseradish my grandma gave me the tip to use some lemon juice to prevent oxidation of the sulfuric stuff which builds up the aroma of horseradish and wasabi.

With lemon juice you will have the full flavour longer, even if you have the wasabi out in the open.

Just bought some powder for another recipe and wondered how to use the rest. Thank you for the tips.

Where can I get the Wasabi Pot, and some of the root rhizome to plant?