Sunday, June 1, 2008

Start Thinking ... now!

Remember that insanely irritating Budweiser ad? Well, apparently, I'm bent on bringing that sticky memory back! :)

Sunita was crazy enough to let me host Think Spice this month. And I warned her that the theme would probably be non-traditional. And it is ... *drumroll* please ...


And yes, it is a spice. Atleast the root is. In terms of the traditional definition of a spice!

A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for the purpose of flavouring, and indirectly for the purpose of killing and preventing growth of pathogenic bacteria.

licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Ever since I got hooked on sushi, life has been a wasabi romance all along. Until I *just* discovered some vital facts:

Rude Shock #1:
Often, wasabi that we encounter in restaurants is not the real thing! And the stuff that comes in tubes is horseradish+mustard+food colouring.

Rude Shock #2:
What?! So, horseradish is not wasabi? *sigh*
Oh well, whatever. I'll eat it anyway. And I insist on calling it wasabi. Maybe wa-sah-bih. Maybe even wa-saaaab-beeeeee.

[This is what I love about Think Spice - it is often a botany-lesson-in-session. By the end of the month, I often feel like I could write a couple of essays about the spice of the month! :)]

From that fabulous Wikipedia:

Wasabi (Japanese: わさび,ワサビ , 山葵 (originally written 和佐比); Wasabia japonica, Cochlearia wasabi, or Eutrema japonica) is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbages, horseradish and mustard. Known as "Japanese horseradish", its root is used as a spice and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is more akin to that of a hot mustard than the capsaicin in a chili pepper, producing vapors that irritate the nasal passages more than the tongue. The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan. There are also other species used, such as W. koreana, and W. tetsuigi. The two main cultivars in the marketplace are W. japonica var. Daruma and Mazuma, but there are many others.

So, time to dig through those cookbooks, surf the web, ping your friends and neighbours ... we need some wasabi recipes and we need them now! :)

Rules of the month:
Hit those asian stores, buy up all the wasabi you can lay your hands on and whip up some insanely pungent recipes that'll set the food blogosphere afire!

Obviously, you can go all gourmet and buy the wasabi root, grate it and work your mojo! Or you can buy the stuff in a tube or a bottle or a jar (even the not-so-authentic version) and whip up your recipes. Whatever works, as long as you have fun doing it :)

Share your nuggets of knowledge with the rest of us, any crazy wasabi stories? Or do you have video to share - maybe you snorted some wasabi sometime? Or ate a whole ball of it without knowing what it was?

Include a link back to this post in your write-up, a logo should be available here later today in case you want to use that along with your post.

Email the following information with your entry on or before June 25th to
cookingfromatoz [at] gmail [dot] com:

* Use the subject 'Think Spice - Think Wasabi'
* Your name
* Name and Url of your blog
* Name of your recipe
* Url of the post on your blog
* A pic of your dish (250 px wide, height does not matter) if any

Non-bloggers are welcome too, email your recipe (and a pic, if applicable) to me and I'll post it as part of the round-up.

Weeeee! Now I'm excited thinking about all the crazy experimenting that this theme is going to induce!


FH said...

I bought a little can Wasabi few month's ago, never used it, guess I have to now! :D
Good one!:)

Finla said...

HI hi I have never ever had a sushi .
But i had bought a tube wasabi while i was in a chinese shop.
Ig i can find the tube back in my kitchen shelf, i will send you something.
Must admit i am looking forward to the challenge of finding the wasabi in my messy shelf and then finding a recipe for it .

sunita said...

Way to go, girl! You've got me thinking already :-DD

...and no, I was not crazy to let you host Think Spice...I had faith in your capabilities as a very fine hostess :-)

Sangeeth said...

very different way to think...nice event topic

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

Truly interesting, but I'll have to sit this one out. Can't get the stuff here.
I've never seen it or eaten it and can imagine the weird looks I'll get if I went asking for it! :)

KayKat said...

Hey Aparna,

I think you can get horseradish at the indian supermarkets (even if you can't get wasabi).

Also, I've seen dried horseradish powder at a couple of stores in Madras.

Sorry about making this complicated!

Cham said...

Wasabi an interesting spice indeed... I do have a tube ... now let me think other than sushi...

Arundathi said...

hmmm wasabi in chennai? i'm starting my hunt tomorrow and am determined to find it!! :-) I love love love wasabi and a huge fan of sushi - or atleast veggie sushi! this is a great theme - atleast it'll get me to find wasabi here!

bee said...

you are BAD. i have an ancient tube of wasabi. j's been promising to make sushi, but never got down to it. not holding my breath.

Ramya's Mane Adige said...

hmmmm... interesting!!! I hope I can come up w/ something for this...

Mansi said...

I needed enough inspiration to make some sushi, and I think you just did it:) gotta sue that tube lying in the fridge:)D

Siri said...

I am for some wa-saaaaaaa-beeeeeeee hunt this weekend.. 'real thinking; is needed as I don't even know how this spic looks..;)

Jai wasaaaaaaaabii!!


Cynthia said...

I remember the first time I had wasabi and it was in the company of strangers, I wanted to get up and run and cry and scream!

Swati Raman Garg said...

interesting ... had never heard of it before and now it seems i have done a phd on it... hahaha... but where do i find it here.. will have to looking for a wa-saaaaaaaaa-beeeeee seaech now...

Srivalli said...

wa-saaaab-beeeeee???..I know one bee...don't know what wa saaab..whatever you mean!...I trust anu will do the shopping for all of us..she promised she will get the load!...let me see if she does...else you will have me standing on the side admiring your waaa..waa let me go get the word correct!

Suganya said...

So you knew I've been wanting to make sushi for almost a year now? Sigh....

Sunshinemom said...

I needed that lesson:) Let me see whether I can find it here!

Anonymous said...

Robert-Gilles from Shizuoka, Japan!
I seem to find all those postings on wasabi and tend to become (undeservedly) snob and proud of the fact as Shizuoka Prefecture grows 80% of all wasabi in the world!
It was first grown and tarded in Shizuoka City, where I live, in the beginning of the 17th Century.
We can readily buy it fresh all year long. I have even found a grower which agreed to sell them to me whole with its great edible stems and leaves ( a metre high in all!). I sent some by cool box to a great French Chef Friend of mine, Dominique Corby, in Osaka. Even his Japanese chefs could not believe their eyes!
Even the Japanese can be shocked!

Cham said...

I just sent my entry , hope you got it :)

Mansi said...

I just sent you my entry last night K! hope you got it!:)