How to Use Wasabi? Tasty Wasabi Recipes From Scratch!


Wasabi is one of the most popular spices in Japan. Wasabi tastes spicy. So, why is Wasabi spicy? How can we reduce the spiciness? And how to use Wasabi?


Why Is Wasabi Spicy?

To begin with, why is Wasabi spicy?

The spicy taste component of wasabi is sinigrin. And, sinigrin is in the cells of Wasabi. It is a combination of glucose and mustard oil.

Sinigrin is not spicy in its original state. However, when you grate it, the enzyme myrosinase in the tissue kicks in. This chemical reaction, called hydrolysis, produces an allyl mustard oil.

This allyl mustard oil imparts a spicy taste. Also, since the allyl mustard oil is volatile, it has a strong spicy flavor.

So, let’s explore the spiciness of wasabi based on the quotes.

Same as Horseradish and Mustard

The spicy taste component of wasabi is called allyl isothiocyanate. Actually, this is the same spicy taste component of horseradish and Japanese mustard. This allyl isothiocyanate is produced when the cells of Wasabi are destroyed.

In short, it means that to make Wasabi spicy, we need to grate it. In other words, Wasabi is spicy because it is grated.

What is Allyl Isothiocyanate?

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of the spicy taste ingredient, allyl isothiocyanate.

First, the chemical formula of allyl isothiocyanate is CH2CHCH2NCS. If you have studied chemistry, you may be able to guess some of its properties.

There are two major characteristics relevant to cooking: volatility and oil solubility.


Volatility is the tendency of a liquid to evaporate at room temperature. Allyl isothiocyanate is a liquid substance at room temperature. But it is volatile and evaporates easily.

When you put your face close to wasabi, you may notice a spicy smell and a stinging feeling in your eyes. This is because allyl isothiocyanate has volatilized (evaporated) and got into your nose and eyes.

Oil Solubility

Oil solubility is the property of being soluble in oil. Allyl isothiocyanate is insoluble in water and soluble in oil. Allyl isothiocyanate is also called allyl mustard oil. As you can see, it has “oil” in its name.

How to Reduce Wasabi’s Spiciness?

I am not a big fan of wasabi. The reason is simple: it is spicy. But I love the flavor of Wasabi. So I thought of a way to enjoy the flavor of Wasabi while reducing its spiciness.

Heating Removes Spiciness

The pungent component of Wasabi, allyl mustard oil, is volatile. Therefore, heating will remove much of the spiciness. However, if you heat wasabi for a long time, all the flavor of the wasabi will be gone. Just add wasabi just before the dish is ready and apply a little heat.

Mixing with Oil Make Spiciness Mild

Wasabi’s spicy taste component, allyl isothiocyanate, is oil soluble. And when allyl isothiocyanate is dissolved in other oils, it becomes less spicy.

People often describe it as the spicy taste of Wasabi being coated with oil.

Covered with Oil

My image is like this.

If you eat only Wasabi, the spiciness reaches your tongue directly. Obviously, it feels very spicy. How about when you mix Wasabi with oil? The spiciness of Wasabi dissolves well in oil.

As you know, there is a lot of water in the mouth. Oil and water repel each other. Obviously, the spiciness of wasabi dissolved in oil will not reach the tongue as easily. As a result, you may not feel the spiciness as much.

You can experience this when eating sushi. When you eat fatty sushi such as O-toro (fatty tuna) or salmon, you may not feel the spiciness of Wasabi as much. This is probably because the spiciness of Wasabi dissolves in the fat of the fish, making it harder to feel on the tongue.

How to Use Wasabi?

So how do you use wasabi? If you only use it for sushi, it is mottainai.

Mix with Soy Sauce and Mayonnaise

Most importantly, Wasabi is almost never used alone. In other words, sushi is a very rare case. Usually, we mix wasabi with other ingredients.

The most common is soy sauce. And it also goes very well with fatty foods such as mayonnaise and avocado. This is your chance to use that wasabi sitting in your fridge. Let’s check out the recipe right away.

Tarako Pasta with Wasabi

Firstly, here is a recipe for pasta. I added wasabi to tarako pasta made with Swedish Kalles Kaviar. This wasabi tarako pasta is quick to make and outstandingly delicious.

Wasabi Tuna Mayo Pasta

One more pasta recipe. Tuna mayo is popular in Japan. You can make it Japanese style pasta sauce by seasoning the tuna mayo with soy sauce and wasabi.

Wasabi Mayo and Basil Salad

Next is a recipe using wasabi mayo. In fact, wasabi and basil go great together. Just by tearing up some basil and adding it, you can make a very tasty dressing. In this recipe, I dressed avocado, tomatoes, and soft boiled chicken.

Fish Flakes with Wasabi Flavor

Fish flakes, which go great with rice, are flavored with wasabi. You can make it with salmon, horse mackerel, sardines, or any other fish you like. The spiciness and flavor of wasabi is addictive. It is also perfect for Ochazuke (rice with dashi soup).

Wasabi Flavored White Sauce

Wasabi goes well with Western cuisine. You can easily make wasabi-flavored white sauce without cream. And it goes great with Hamburg steak and meatballs.

Wasabi Dressing

This wasabi dressing recipe uses simple ingredients. Use olive oil for a Western style, or sesame oil for a Chinese style. It is recommended to make the wasabi dressing just before eating so that the spicy taste of the wasabi will not be lost.

Wasabi Avocado Dip

In addition, wasabi is also used in the dipping sauce. The classic avocado dip has a Japanese taste with wasabi and soy sauce. It is also delicious on vegetable sticks, crackers, or toast.

Wasabi Mixed Vegetables

Colorful mixed vegetables. However, many people may not like the taste. So, I have added wasabi and soy sauce to make mixed vegetable tasty. This is a recipe for mixed vegetables that goes well with alcohol.

Wasabi Soy Avocado

At last, the easiest and tastiest wasabi recipe. It is a sloppy recipe. Simply pour soy sauce and wasabi over sliced avocado. This is a very well-known in Japan, and so tasty recipe.


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