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Wasabi cream is generally a mixture of wasabi powder, sour cream, and vegetables, like minced leeks, shallots, and sometimes grated horseradish. Those using fresh wasabi root to make wasabi cream must handle it with gloves to avoid skin irritation. Some cooks may even want to wear eye protection to avoid getting the juice in their eyes. When using either fresh or powdered wasabi, cooks should typically blend the ingredients carefully and taste the cream often to check that the flavors aren’t too strong.
Often compared to horseradish, wasabi is a pale green plant that is native to Japan. It has broad, circular leaves and a thick, fibrous root. The root is the part that holds all of the flavor and spiciness. These are usually available fresh in Asian grocery stores and appear as a brown, knobby tube with pale green stems sticking up from one end. This is unprepared wasabi and, as such, is not yet ready to go into wasabi cream.
Cooks should typically wear disposable gloves when working with wasabi root. Even if the cook doesn’t have sensitive skin during preparation, gloves can protect him or her later, for instance, if he or she accidentally touches his or her face with contaminated fingers. Protective eyewear, such as clear carpenters’ goggles, may be necessary for those that often cry when cutting onions.
A vegetable peeler usually works well for removing the brown outer layer of the root. The cook should then grate the root against a microplane or fine grater to grind it into a paste. Most wasabi cream recipes call for about 1/8 part of this paste to be mixed with 1 part sour cream. Those using wasabi powder may want to start with 1/16 part wasabi, because it is usually spicier than the fresh root. Whipping the ingredients together with a fork is usually enough to mix them thoroughly.
Those that like extra spice may add 1/8 part or so of horseradish to their wasabi cream, but the cream should typically be tasted first. Wasabi cream should have a noticeable bite that doesn’t cancel out the tanginess of the sour cream. The cook may also add chopped leeks or shallots to the recipe, but should taste carefully after stirring the ingredients together. These ingredients usually enhance wasabi’s spiciness and might cancel out the sour cream’s cooling effect if the cook overuses them.
Finished wasabi cream goes well with a number of dishes. It may be used as a dipping sauce for sushi, shrimp, crab, or scallops. Tuna’s meaty, rich flavor often benefits from a touch of wasabi on top. Innovative cooks might even try pairing this cream with steak, chicken, swordfish, and salmon. Side dishes for entrees covered in wasabi cream should typically include cooling flavors. A cucumber salad or sliced fruit typically does the trick.
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