Wasabi… What is it?!? You know that green mushy guacamole like stuff you have probably seen in Japanese Restaurants. Only thing is, it tastes nothing like Guacamole!
I moved from a small town in Texas to California when I was 17 years old, I had never been to a Japanese restaurant, let alone heard of Wasabi. When I was served wasabi and ginger for the first time, this small town girl assumed it was Guacamole and put the entire wasabi ball in her mouth, yes, me… I did that!
I literally thought I was going to die! I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t speak, I was in so much pain… all the while, a restaurant full of people were all really really laughing at me and I still had no idea what was happening! Thank goodness I am actually laughing as I write this and find it very funny today. It was a great way to learn not to assume anything about anything- especially food!
So seriously… what is Wasabi?!? Does it really have healing properties?
Wasabi is a perennial herb plant and is a member of the Cruciferae or Brassicaceae family along with cabbages, horseradish, and mustard. The root of the Wasabi is often used as a condiment and has a very strong taste and aroma. The two types of Wasabi include Wasabi Daruma and Wasabi Mazuma. Wasabi has decent amounts of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium.
Although Wasabi is often known as a condiment in Japanese restaurants, there are some other great reasons to eat Wasabi. Now, when I say Wasabi is healthy, I don’t mean the processed kind you find in most restaurants, snacks, junk food, I mean the actual fresh Wasabi Plant (Wasabia japonica or Eutrema japonica).
The Wasabi most people have eaten may have gluten, is a mix of horse radish, a little mustard paste and green food coloring. Real plant Wasabi tastes like an herb, is pungent, but doesn’t sting like the horse radish. It is easier to eat and is actually a very powerful healing agent. Genuine fresh Wasabi is rarely found in the United States or Canada.
8 Top Healing Benefits of Wasabi:
- Anti-microbial: Fights many forms of bacteria, yeast and mold. [8}
- Anti-bacterial: Found effective in fighting E. Coli, Staphylococcus & H-Pylori. 
- Detoxifier: helps the liver to get rid of toxins & carcinogens. 
- Anti-inflammatory: may reduce arthritis, joint pain, asthma & Irritable Bowel Disease.
- Anti-Cancer Properties: may assist the liver in neutralizing toxins & cancer cells.  
- Protects Heart: may reduce heart attack/stroke by preventing blood clots. [Dr. James Duke]
- Improves Digestion: may help the intestinal tract get rid of toxins & is rich in fibers.  
- Fights Cavities: The leaves help kill Streptococcus Bacteria in your mouth. [Matsuda, 2004]
My favorite healing property about Wasabi is its possible effectiveness at fighting H-Pylori. According to a 2004 PubMed article by Shin, Masuda and Naohide, the AIT and other components in wasabi roots, stems and leaves were able to show bactericidal activities against H-pylori strain NCTC 11637, YS 27 and YS 50. If Wasabi can fight H-Pylori, imagine how powerful it is!
All these studies were conducted in a laboratory, as are the majority of studies, but Wasabi has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years, and there are many people who attest to its healing properties.
Real Wasabi is very expensive to buy and find because it is very rare to find fresh Wasabi, and it can also be difficult to grow Wasabi. Wasabi is naturally found in the mountainous wet riverbed climate of Japan and does not need a ton of sunshine, but nonetheless is a stubborn plant to grow and takes about two to three years to be ready for harvesting.
If you want to grow Wasabi, you most likely will need a water tower or aquatic system. The state of North Carolina, Oregon, the province of British Columbia, and the Countries of New Zealand, Taiwan and Korea have been the only other places besides Japan to really take on the difficulty of successfully growing large quantities of Wasabi.
If you are looking for ammunition in your natural healing arsenal, Wasabi is a standup Super Plant! If you can get your hands on some fresh Wasabi, please send me some… half kidding! 🙂
You can make fresh Wasabi by cutting the root, peeling the skin off and finely grating the green flesh to get a creamy like texture.
This is one of the Yummy dishes I served at Thanksgiving this year- Vegan Sushi Balls with Wasabi Dipping Sauce!
These Vegan Sushi Balls are so Yummy Yummy Baby, you won’t eat just one, so here is a recipe for 17!
Ingredients for Vegan/Gluten Free Sushi Balls:
- 2 Cups of White Rice (short grain works best). I use GF Jasmine Rice.
- 3 Tablespoons of of Rice Vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons of Coconut Liquid Aminos (or Braggs or Soy Sauce)
- 2 Tablespoons of Sugar (I use Coconut Sugar)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of Sea Salt
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Sea Vegetables
- 2 carrots (chopped)
- 5 Scallions (chopped Green part)
- 1/4 cup hulled Black or White Sesame Seeds (I mix both)
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1 Inch of Fresh Ginger (peeled & sliced)
Instructions for Sushi Balls:
- Cook 2 Cups of Rice according to package instructions
- While Rice is cooking, Combine the Liquid Aminos (Soy Sauce), Rice Vinegar, Sugar, Sea Salt, Carrots, Scallions, Garlic, Ginger in a Food Processor/Blender until well minced.
- Transfer the mixture to a large Glass Bowl or a bowl that is not plastic.
- Place the Sesame seeds on a large flat plate and spread them out.
- When the Rice is done, combine Rice & Mixture and fold it all in with a wooden spoon.
- I tightly cover my Rice Mixture and let it sit for at least 2 hours.
- After the rice is cool & sticky, make little rice balls & roll each one in the sesame seeds.
- Put them on a baking sheet with was paper and refrigerate them for up to 2 days!
Wasabi Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 Tablespoon of Wasabi Powder (unless you can get fresh)
- 1/4 Cup of Spring Water
- 1 Large Garlic Clove
- 1 inch Fresh Ginger, peeled & thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons of Coconut Oil (room temp)
- 1 teaspoon of Coconut Sugar (or sugar of choice)
- 5 Tablespoons of Coconut Aminos (or Braggs Aminos, or Soy Sauce)
- 1 Tablespoons of Rice Vinegar
Instructions for Wasabi Dipping Sauce
Save a couple of strips of the Ginger on the side. Place the rest of the above ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until all the ingredients are very fine. Taste to see if you like to add more soy sauce/aminos or Wasabi… I always do 😉 put the Wasabi Sauce in a little dish and sprinkle some little Ginger slices on top!
 Suppressive effect of wasabi (pungent Japanese spice) on gastric carcinogenesis induced by MNNG in rats. Nutr Cancer. 1991;16(1):53-8.
 Dynamics of Nrf2 and Keap1 in ARE-mediated NQO1 expression by wasabi 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Nov 23;59(22):11975-82.
 Selective sensitivity to wasabi-derived 6-(methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate of human breast cancer and melanoma cell lines studied in vitro. Cancer Detect Prev. 2005;29(2):155-60.
 Tumor cell proliferation and cyclooxygenase inhibitory constituents in horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and Wasabi (Wasabia japonica). J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Mar 9;53(5):1440-4.
 Colon cancer proliferating desulfosinigrin in wasabi (Wasabia japonica). Nutr Cancer. 2004;48(2):207-13.
 Bactericidal activity of wasabi (Wasabia japonica) against Helicobacter pylori. Int J Food Microbiol. 2004 Aug 1;94(3):255-61. Anti-influenza virus activity of extract of Japanese wasabi leaves discarded in summer. J Sci Food Agric. 2008;88:1704–1708.
 Suppressive effect of hot water extract of wasabi (Wasabia japonica Matsum.) leaves on the differentiation of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes. Food Chem. 2010;118:239–244.