So last year, the Osaka based sushi chain Ichibazushi publicly apologised for excessively seasoning their sushi with this pungent root although they claimed it was the chefs that judged who would be a target in the heavy handedness. Most westerners actually asked for extra to liven up the sushi and did not see it as discrimination but Koreans on the other hand were livid and demanded action!
Like say hot sauce in the west, it goes to show how volatile this substance is to taste and can be culturally inspiring debate, challenge and lore.
All madness aside, the only thing worth caring about when it comes to wasabi is to know how it tastes in its natural state. There is nothing wrong with the prepared version made with horseradish and food coloring if you want to get the nasal battalions activated but you should, at least once, contemplate the dynamic nuanced aroma and taste of the real experience.
The reason it is so expensive is that its notoriously fickle and difficult to grow taking as long as 3 years to reach maturity but its definitely worth the added cost.
Hailing from Nara, it is now mainly grown in Shizuoka, Nagano and Iwate but demand is so high that you’ll see imports from China, Taiwan and even New Zealand.
Go get it!