Savvy Traveler: How to Spot Fake Wasabi

Wasabi (aka the lump of green stuff that comes with sushi) is not horseradish. Wasabi is a plant that grows primarily in Japan but now also in the Pacific Northwest of the US. It is difficult to grow and can cost up to $100/lb. You see where I’m going with this…

In order to meet the rising demand for $6 supermarket sushi, the green stuff you are most likely getting with your sushi is American horseradish, mustard and coloring, hopefully at least mixed with the real stuff.

If you would like to be sure what you have, suggests, you can ask your wait staff if what you are served is ‘real wasabi’ or ‘fresh wasabi’ and if not, if it is available. If you are served putty, more than likely it is not real. Real wasabi is grated (traditionally on a sharkskin grater called an oroshi) and looks as such. Fake wasabi is not and does not. Just ask your wait staff for ‘fresh wasabi’ and if they have the real thing, they will usually return with a dish with a grated pile of the real thing, which is a very different experience from fake wasabi. If you are buying wasabi in store, read the label to determine if you have real wasabi or something else.