Is Wasabi as Spicy as Chili Peppers?

Wasabi is not a pepper but it is just as spicy as some peppers. This adopted Japanese horseradish has become very popular in the United States and is gaining a lot of attention. Its spicy taste in particular is one of the reasons it is gradually becoming a condiment in high demand.

If you want answers on the taste of wasabi and what makes it spicy, you should read this article.

What Is Wasabi?

Wasabi (Wasabia japonica or Eutrema japonicum) is also known as Japanese horseradish. Generally, it describes a spicy paste in Japanese cuisine used to eat sushi, udon, and sashimi. Wasabi paste is made by grating the less fibrous rhizomes of the wasabi plant.

The wasabi plant looks like horseradish, mustard, and cabbage. While the roots go into a paste, the leaves make great condiments in salads. Moreover, some people love to bake them into delicious and healthy crispy chips.

Is Wasabi Spicy?

Yes, wasabi is spicy. To complement its spiciness is its pungent flavor. The spiciness is best considered “hot” because, unlike chili peppers, it first hits your nose, not your tongue. The spiciness you feel on your tongue is rather an aftertaste.

Furthermore, just like mustard and horseradish, wasabi contains the chemical compound, allyl isothiocyanate, which is responsible for the spiciness.

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Is Wasabi Bitter or Sweet?

If you want to describe wasabi’s taste, you’ll better describe it with the word spicy. As for bitter or sweet, wasabi is rather bitter and spicy. It also has notes of vegetables in its taste.

How Hot Is Wasabi Compared to Pepper?

The first thing to note is the chemical compound that makes wasabi and peppers spicy. In wasabi, it is allyl isothiocyanate. In peppers, on the other hand, it is capsaicin.

The heat of wasabi is not measured in the Scoville Heat Units (SHU), but if you must, it can be compared to 1000 SHU. This value is nothing comparable to the SHU of jalapeno and habanero peppers.

Is Honey Wasabi Spicy?

Honey wasabi is spicy with sweet notes. This sauce is good for salad dressing, as a sauce over chicken and fish, and for salad dressing. The major ingredients in honey wasabi are honey and wasabi.  

Other ingredients like soy sauce and lime juice help to complement the taste of the sauce. Lime juice works as a neutralizer in the sauce.

Is Wasabi Powder Spicy?

Wasabi powder is a seasoning made from dry wasabi roots. It is not as spicy as wasabi paste. If you can’t stand the heat of wasabi, you can use the powder form instead for the vegetal notes and wasabi flavor.

Is Wasabi Mayonnaise Spicy?

Wasabi mayonnaise is not as spicy as the regular wasabi paste. This is because it is a mixture of wasabi paste and mayonnaise. It also has a less pungent flavor, which is majorly replaced by the sweetness and saltiness of mayonnaise.

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Is Wasabi Aioli Spicy?

Wasabi aioli is spicy if you use more wasabi paste than mayonnaise. This dipping sauce is made of mayo, wasabi paste, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and ground ginger. If you’d rather have a sauce with a mild flavor and less heat, use less wasabi paste.

What Are the Benefits of Eating Wasabi?

1. It may fight cancer

Isothiocyanate in wasabi can help inhibit the expansion of cancerous cells. This can in turn help to stop tumor growth. As a natural treatment, it will not negatively impact the healthy cells around the cancerous cells.

2. Antibacterial properties

The chemical compound responsible for the spiciness of wasabi, isothiocyanate, also has antibacterial properties. It is one of the reasons why wasabi is served with sushi. It helps fight bacteria in raw fish that can lead to food poisoning.

3. Promotes weight loss

Eating wasabi regularly can help control cholesterol levels and promote weight loss. In addition, it can help clear the blood vessels of cholesterol buildup and prevent stroke and atherosclerosis.

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4. Detoxification

Wasabi is a natural detoxifier. It helps to remove toxins that you may ingest while you eat raw fish. It removes these harmful substances from the tissues and digestive system and prevents cases of severe illnesses.

5. Improves bone health

Eating wasabi can help prevent platelet aggregation and consequently improve bone health. Moreover, it can help soothe joints and muscle inflammation that cause arthritis.

6. Improves blood circulation

Wasabi contains compounds that can help improve blood flow by inhibiting clotting. It keeps the blood vessels clear and helps to maintain cardiac health. Moreover, it can help soothe arthritis by preventing blood platelet aggregation.

7. Antiaging properties

Since wasabi improves blood circulation, it can also help to improve signs of aging. When blood flows well, the skin will appear smoother and softer.   

8. Wasabi can help fight cold

Wasabi is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant, which can help fight some of the symptoms of cold such as nasal congestion. It can also help to soothe inflammation.

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What Are the Side Effects of Eating Wasabi?

If you eat too much wasabi, some of the benefits like reducing the rate of blood clot formation can turn against your body. It may excessively slow down blood clot formation and damage some blood vessels. In addition, because of how spicy wasabi is, it may worsen ulcers, gastritis, and heartburn.

Another thing to note, if you are allergic to soy sauce, you might experience slight inconveniences when you eat wasabi in restaurants. And, if you’re eating wasabi for the first time, you may also have an allergy to it.

How to Use Wasabi

Here is a list of what you can do with wasabi:

  • Add it to salad dressings
  • The spicy nature of wasabi makes it a great condiment in meat and fish marinades
  • You can also use wasabi to flavor your butter, mayo, and hollandaise sauce
  • Eat wasabi with sushi
  • Make wasabi hummus
  • Add wasabi powder to mashed potatoes
  • Make deviled eggs spicy with wasabi

FAQs

Why is wasabi served with sushi?

Most sushi restaurants serve wasabi with sushi because the spicy taste helps to enhance the flavor of the raw fish. It also has microbial properties that help to fight bacteria in raw fish.

Is wasabi the same as horseradish?

Wasabi is not horseradish. They are two different plants in the same family. Wasabi is commonly mistaken for horseradish because the latter is what most of the sold wasabi contains.

Can you get real wasabi in America?

Real wasabi is not common in America. Reports have it that 95-99% of the wasabi sold in America is not real wasabi. It is a mixture of horseradish, mustard powder, green coloring, and sometimes, corn starch. Surprisingly, Japan is not left out on this.

Is wasabi expensive?

Wasabi may be quite expensive in some areas, especially outside Japan. This is because the roots are very difficult to grow. They require river beds that are not always naturally available. So, when you find real wasabi, it’ll cost way more than horseradish.

Conclusion

If you need a kick of heat in your meal without using chili, wasabi may just be the ingredient to use. Many cooks love to use wasabi because while it is spicy, the heat does not last long in your mouth.

Real wasabi is very common in Japan. Although some American farmers have successfully grown wasabi farms. If you lay your hand on some, feel free to add it to your dishes. You can also refrigerate it for three weeks to enjoy a good supply.

Thanks for reading.

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