Saturday, July 14, 2007

Sautéed Mushrooms with Fresh Wasabi

Susan from Food Blogga is hosting this edition of Weekend Herb Blogging and I'm quite excited by this week's find. Finally I've managed to get hold of fresh Wasabi!

wasabi© by haalo

This Wasabi is Australian grown and hails from Tasmania - most of the yield goes to restaurants in Australia and Japan and in the production of Ashgrove Wild Wasabi Cheese. It's a young industry having only started in late 1990's.

Wasabi is a member of the cabbage family which probably explains why it resembles a Brussels sprout stem. It's an aquatic plant and is traditionally grown along streams. While it can take up to 20 years for the wasabi root to reach full maturity, the leaves can be picked and offer a similar flavouring to the wasabi itself.

Wasabi aids in digestion and has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties - it's also an antioxidant and has high levels of Vitamin C.

This is a living plant and it's stored simply in a glass of water in the fridge.

storing wasabi© by haalo

When you want to use it, just peel away the rough skin from the amount you wish to use and using a very fine grater, grate the wasabi. Unless you are using it immediately, store the grated wasabi under plastic wrap to stop it from losing it's flavour. Heating will also lessen it's impact.

The first thing I noticed when I grated some was the immediate intense "wasabi" scent. I could almost feel it clearing my airways - that's something you just don't get when you open those faux-wasabi tubes (those tubes don't usually contain real wasabi but a blend of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring).

Tasting it proved an eye-opening and sinus awakening experience - so much flavour that you will have to use it judiciously.

The next photo shows you the wasabi in cross section:

wasabi cross section © by haalo

Once you've finished grating, just pop it back in the glass of water.

While it's most fitting use would be along side some sashimi grade Tuna or Salmon I've decided to use it as a last minute garnish over some sautéed mushrooms - I say last minute as heat diminishes the wasabi's flavour.

sautéed mushrooms© by haalo

Sautéed Mushrooms with Wasabi

The mushrooms I chose were Shimeji

shimeji mushroom© by haalo

and Chestnut (similar to Black Poplar or Velvet Pioppini in the US)

hestnut mushroom© by haalo


Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a skillet and when the butter has melted and is sizzling add the prepared mushrooms. Sauté over a high heat so that any liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated rather than remaining in the pan causing the mushrooms to stew. Once they have browned and just softened, remove from the heat.

Season with a little freshly ground salt.

Allow to cool before grating over with a little fresh wasabi - toss the mushrooms to allow the flavour to permeate and serve immediately.


  1. Lovely photos Haalo! I've tried fresh wasabi once, after which I find that all the 'faux' wasabi are so bland-tasting.

  2. Very, very cool. I'm quite sure I haven't had real wasabi. Every week I just keep learning something new from you! Great post, and I love the idea of wasabi with mushrooms.

  3. Wow, Wasabi is weird, but quite beautiful at the same time! Witter, witter! Blogging is certainly a learning curve!

  4. What stunning photos these are, Haalo. I'm intrigued by fresh wasabi; I've only had it in pastes or sauces, but I'll have to look for it now. Thanks for a fantastic WHB entry!

  5. fabulous, fabulous find, Haalo! I love wasabi but never tsted the fresh one before. Will you be able to go back to the ready-made wasabi after having the fresh one? ;-)

  6. Thanks Angie - some of those tubes taste like nothing, I find the powder which has some real wasabi in it to be a little better.

    Thanks Kalyn - you get the aroma wafting from the mushrooms and a gentle cleansing sensation that works well with the earthiness of the mushrooms.

    Thanks Holler - they do look weird.

    Thanks Susan - they have been growing wasabi in the US for a little longer than here so it may just be a matter of looking in the right place to find it.

    Thanks Nora - going back would be tough so I'll savour what I have for now. I might have to go searching for the authentic sharkskin graters next ;)

  7. Fantastic photos, subject and recipe! Did you get the wasabi in Melbourne?

  8. Thanks AOF - Mow's (the potato man) at Prahran market currently has some and they are around $12-$15 a stem. The mushrooms are from Damian Pikes also at Prahran Market.

  9. Ah fresh wasabi! I love wasabi but have yet to be able to try it. Doubt I'll have the chance!

    Hrm when I was in Japan, their wasabi was kinda mild and didn't have the same effect as the tubes. I've also heard that fresh wasabi isn't as strong as those faux wasabi. Is it?

  10. Hi Evinrude - from what I gather even in Japan, fresh wasabi is really only served in the top end places. I actually thought the flavour was quite strong but it's very sensitive to temperature and it's potency diminishes over time. This is the reason they recommend covering it with plastic wrap if you aren't going to use it straight away.

  11. beautiful!!!! Love the wasabi photo. I wish I could get some here in the markets.

  12. Thanks Jaden - i consider myself lucky to have found it.

  13. AnonymousJuly 18, 2007

    Oooh fresh wasabi! It looks like such a cute plant too! I like that you can just use a bit and pop the rest back into the glass of water.

  14. Thanks Y - if you use it really quickly you can just store it wrapped in damp paper towels too.

  15. What a spectacular post!!! Stunning photos and great info. Now I'll be on a hunt to find some here in Halifax...quite a challenge, but I'm up for it.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Thanks Ruth - and hope the search is successful!

  17. The first three photos are no longer available.


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