There’s a lot of food to love in Japan, from sushi and sashimi to large nabe (pot dishes) like sukiyaki to delicious tonkatsu (breaded and fried pork cutlet) topped with Kirino’s sauce. While the Japanese aren’t generally into eating food that’s very spicy — Indians and Koreans secretly laugh at them for being unable to eat really hot curry or kimchee — they do love to flavor certain foods with wasabi, a spicy green paste that’s often called Japanese horseradish. Wasabi is very good with sushi and sashimi, as well as cold noodle dishes like soba and udon, and nothing cleans out the old sinuses like using a little too much wasabi in your food. The wasabi root is cultivated in different parts of Japan, most notably Shizuoka Prefecture near Mt. Fuji, but it’s very hard to grow as it requires perfectly clean water and a specific type of climate. As with most interesting things you encounter in Japan, wasabi has a long history, being first mentioned in official documents in the Nara Period, 1300 years ago. If you’re curious, we’ve got some great wasabi-related products on the site today, along with cookbooks in English for you to get cooking ideas for Japanese foods.
I’m a big fan of spicy wasabi on sushi and sashimi.