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Wasabi History

History of Wasabi

Wasabi is essential for Japanese food like sushi. A fresh-tasting ingredient of Japan, it is being characterized by a nose-burning sensation when eaten.

Wasabi used to be used as a medicinal plant around the 10th century in Japan.

tokugawa kamon & wasabi leaf

The “Cookbook of the Shijo School”, published in 1489, was the first time Koi’s sashimi was described as being dipped in wasabi vinegar.

So it said that wasabi began to be used in cooking at that time. During those days, vinegar was the basic seasoning.

This gave rise to a variety of vinegar like Miso vinegar, walnut vinegar, etc.  Soy sauce was not yet commonly used in that time.

During the Edo Period in the 17th century, wasabi was cultivated in a government farms located in Shizuoka.

Since wasabi leaves look similar to the Aoi-Mon (mallow patterns) of the House of Tokugawa, the ruling shogunate of the day, growing wasabi was hardly left to ordinary people at that time. When it came to be cultivated in areas beyond government farms, it began to be supplied in the town of Edo.

At first, it used to be used as a spice for Soba and for getting rid of the smell of fish.

It began to be used in 1820 when they served sushi, with wasabi between the rice and topping.

Edo-style sushi was said to be perfected when Yohe Hanaya served sushi with wasabi and tea.

Kinds of Wasabi

Water-grown wasabi (River-grown wasabi)
Cultivated in clear streams such as mountain streams and springs.
Shizuoka, Nagano, Shimane and Tokyo

Soil-grown wasabi (Farm-grown wasabi)
Cultivated in cool and humid fields
Oita, Shimane, Nagano, Fukushima and Yamaguchi
Producing countries other than Japan  China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam

Western wasabi (Horseradish) Hokkaido
It said that Wasabi came to Japan from Eastern Europe in the middle of the 19th century.

horse radish

 

Source : Data from the Japan Processed Wasabi Association

 

Tokyo Oume Kaneku(wasabi  company) factory
wasabi factory

 

Tokyo Sushi Academy Singapore

Nigiri sushi short class