Story of Wasabi

Artisan

“Dedication to cultivate the water-grown wasabi for more than 100 years”

Our farmer, Maruiwa Ando Wasabi Shop, has dedicated to cultivate their water-grown wasabi in Izu Amagi, Japan, for more than 100 years.  By their dedication, they received the Prime Minister’s Award and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award in Japan.


Product

“The Wasabi Japonica plant has been considered to be one of the most difficult plants to grow.”

It will only grow around 1300 - 2500 meters above sea level while it won't thrive if the air temperature is below 8°C or above 20°C.  Wasabi is challenging to grow, which means that there isn't a lot of wasabi plants on the market for sale.


If you take a slice or take a bite, it’s not spicy at all. Wasabi’s signature tingling sensation comes from the act of grating. This breaks down the plant’s cell structure, allowing an enzyme known as myrosinase to act on a natural chemical called sinigrin, producing a mustard oil. Yet wasabi rapidly loses flavor after grating. High-end restaurants recommend eating it within 1 minutes of grating.


Recently, chefs experimenting with fusion cuisine are finding new uses for it. .  It is predominately a substitute made from horseradish mustard, sugar, salt and green food colouring.  The future of fresh wasabi use in fusion cuisine is truly exciting.


Wasabi contains anti-oxidants and allyl isothiocyanates.  It is the isothiocyanates  (ITCs) produced when wasabi is grated that led to wasabi's reputation as a healthy food.  Anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-para-sitic qualities inherent in ITCs are probably the reason that wasabi has been traditionally served with raw fish dishes as wasabi was used to counter the effect of food poisoning by killing bacteria and parasites in the fish. Studies also suggest that wasabi contains anti inflammatory, anti oxidant and anti-viral properties, along with other famously healthy members of the basic family that produce ITCs, like broccoli and watercress, wasabi has recently become an important tool in research into cancer prevention and treatment.

 

Environment

“Birthplace of Tatamiishi Wasabi”


Nestled deep in the mountains of the Izu Peninsula lies a perfectly balanced ecosystem responsible for one of the most iconic flavors of Japanese cuisine, both traditional and contemporary. Izu has been the home of Japanese wasabi for more than four hundred years.


The tatamiishi (paving stone) style of harvesting was developed in Izu-Amagi area around 1892.  Its main characteristic is the wasabi fields that look terraced rice paddies.  Rocks of many sizes are piled to make terraced  fields,  to  which  water  from  streams  are directed.  Izu-Amagi  is  blessed  with  clear  streams flowing from Mt. Amagi, enabling the area to focus mainly on water-grown wasabi.


The tatamiishi system is a historic and highly sustainable farming method. It is not just the humans who keep the ecosystem in good health; the local birds, butterflies, and even the Japanese clawed salamander keep pests at bay, meaning that no pesticides are needed.


So, what makes Izu-Amagi in particular, the perfect place for premium wasabi? This relatively small area is ranked first in the country for both the amount of wasabi produced and its sales volume. The answer lies in the combination of the ingenious traditional farming method used here and the mountain climate, which seems to have been specially made for wasabi.


The ample supply of mountain-spring water of the “Joren Falls” is an important role and the farmers’ development of thetatamiishi system of wasabi fields that completes the picture. Here, beds of rocks are layered down to create fields within fields, with channels of water running between them. Spaces between larger rocks at the base of the beds create a subterranean drainage system, while toward the top of the beds, the rocks become gradually smaller, creating a stable but highly permeable surface where water moves in a steady flow. This regulates the water temperature and keeps a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients flowing directly to the wasabi plants.