Did you know that only 5% to 10% of the wasabi served in Japanese restaurants is actually real wasabi? It’s usually fake wasabi – horseradish that has been coloured green. It’s a shocking statistic, but there’s a very good reason behind it: wasabi is exceptionally hard to grow.
In this video, Great Big Story visits a 100-year-old farm in Japan where the spicy root is grown using traditional methods. Did you know that it takes 15 months to grow real wasabi, which is ultra-sensitive to sunlight (too little or too much can be deadly), in spring water at a temperature of between 15 and 18 degrees Celsius? Picky plant isn't it?!
According to these wasabi farmers you’ll know authentic wasabi when you taste it, as has it has a rich and complex flavour profile, but at around $70-80 a pound it’s unlikely many of us have ever tried it. It’s almost certainly not what this Japanese restaurant was smothering all over foreign tourists’ food.