Even the most seasoned sushi eaters have likely never eaten real wasabi, a sushi meal staple. There are no labeling laws for wasabi in the U.S., so restaurants can legally claim anything is wasabi. The real stuff comes directly from the rootlike stem of the Wasabia japonica plant. The vast majority of sushi restaurants use different mixtures of horseradish, mustard, and dye to create a spicy, wasabi-like paste. Mixtures like these are used because real wasabi is so difficult to cultivate, and it only retains its flavor for about 15 minutes after grating it. True wasabi grows best under very particular conditions, so it's tricky to cultivate. Wasabi grown in the streambeds of Japan are larger and considered to be of higher quality.
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Key Facts In This Video
A large percentage of the wasabi served at restaurants is fake. 00:00
The greenhouses mimic a stream bed and are filled with dump truck loads of rounded rock. 01:35
Rhizomes of the plant are grated to create the wasabi paste. 04:37