Saturday, March 27, 2010
To Wasa-be or not to Wasa-be?
...that is the question. Tonight, anyway...
The kids and Granma are out of town this weekend for a mini Spring Break vacation, so Papa Bear and I are home alone and chillin' in front of the boob tube. He stumbled upon a show while surfing the channels about hot peppers. We will generally watch a show about food, any food, and so we ended up watching it...and the bonus to this show was that now I know where to order some bhut jolokia ghost pepper seeds so I can grow them myself.
There was a segment specifically on wasabi, which is on my Top 5 Best Condiment list, or it would be if I had one...maybe I'll make one? Wasabi would definitely be number 2 or 3...right behind Crystal hot sauce.
The man in the television set said that real wasabi root was grown in a select few areas in Japan and cost about $100 per pound, so when we (and he meant me, I just know it...the man in the television talks to me all the time!) eat what we think to be wasabi, we are really eating ground/grated horseradish root!
Nooooo!!!! Say it isn't so!!!
So, being the inquisitive sorts we are, we got up and went into the kitchen. Lo and behold, we had not only a tube of wasabi paste in the fridge, but also a jar of wasabi powder! The ingredients on both the paste and the powder were.....
The powder version also listed 'wasabi leaves' along with the horseradish powder, so does that count? Eh, probably not. We slowly came to the ugly realization that we had indeed never tasted true wasabi root. Depressing.
So then Papa Bear had a thought. An evil, delicious thought. This thought is one of the many reasons that I love this man with what's left of my (now) wasabi-less heart. He suggested a "heat taste test" between the two wasabi products.
We mixed the powdered wasabi according to the package directions with equal parts water and let the mixture sit for ten minutes. We then plated the powdered wasabi and the prepared wasabi paste in two servings of equal proportions (see below) and prepared to taste.
Papa Bear had another delicious thought...to use a shot (or four...) of sake as a palette cleanser between tastes. Hey, we didn't have any pickled ginger, okay? Did I mention that I love him?
Now that I see this, do you notice too how nuclear green the prepared wasabi looks compared to the powdered wasabi? Wow.
Here are the opinionated results of our scientifical kitchen-based testing:
Wicked Chef: "I found the powder based wasabi to have a more intense heat, making my nose hairs singe with delight and my sinuses clear almost immediately, followed by a pleasant mellow flavor. The prepared wasabi paste tasted a tad sweeter, with not nearly as much heat-packing punch or toe-curling power. The sake was...hic...very good."
Papa Bear: "The powdered wasabi definitely opened up my sinuses! A much cleaner taste than the stuff in the tube. Unlike Wicked Chef, I found it to be sweeter of the two, and the prepared wasabi to be a bit on the salty side in comparison."
All in all, it was a fun experiment. We laughed. We cried. (Wasabi is hot, after all...) I stubbed my toe. It hurt. I wanted more fake wasabi.
But I will not forget that I have been misled...nay, lied to! All the years I thought I was consuming large quantities of wasabi, I was really eating a green-dyed version of what I eat on my roast beef. But firmer.
Oh, and if the Daddy Warbucks that I hasn't found me yet wants to buy some real wasabi root to try (and probably love!), then please send it my way....