What Is Wasabi Soy Sauce?

B. Leslie Baird

Wasabi soy sauce is a combination of soy sauce and wasabi paste or powder. In most cases, this creation is made at home or mixed by an individual while dining out. The amount of wasabi used in the mixture depends upon individual tastes as it has a strong, spicy flavor. A wasabi soy sauce can be mixed before use or food may be dipped separately into wasabi paste and then into soy sauce.

Wasabi soy sauce contains wasabi powder or paste.
Wasabi soy sauce contains wasabi powder or paste.

True wasabi is a spicy, root-like plant, part of the mustard family, and native to Japan. The entire plant may be used for flavoring, but it is the root portion that is ground into the familiar green, pasty condiment. Wasabi is somewhat difficult to grow and takes from 18 months to three years to reach maturity. These two factors make true wasabi pastes and powders expensive, ranging from $50 US Dollars (USD) to $100 USD per pound.

Traditional soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, aspergillus, salt and water.
Traditional soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, aspergillus, salt and water.

An alternative to true wasabi is called western wasabi. This is created from a mixture of Chinese mustard, horseradish, cornstarch, and a touch of green food coloring. While a reasonable substitute, imitation wasabi does not provide the full flavor of the genuine product. Unlike its substitution, true wasabi has a hot, spicy nature but mellows quickly becoming slightly sweet.

Wasabi paste made from grated roots should be used within half an hour or less, as it quickly loses its flavor. Various recipes for wasabi soy sauce call for one part wasabi paste or powder to eight to 12 parts soy sauce. The more soy sauce used, the less powerful the spice of the wasabi will be.

Soy sauce is made from fermenting soybeans, aspergillus, water, and salt. Aspergillus works like yeast in the fermentation process to make this condiment. When the mixture is finished fermenting, it becomes a paste. The paste is then pressed, and the liquid becomes soy sauce. The remaining paste is often used as a soy animal feed.

Lighter soy sauces can be manufactured by reducing the amount of salt in the initial preparation. Sweet soy sauces employ the addition of a small amount of sugar. Dark soy sauce is aged for a longer period and will usually have caramel added. Molasses may also be included to add a thicker texture, darker color, and a touch of sweetness.

Another variation of wasabi soy sauce uses white wine vinegar and olive oil. Two parts of the vinegar are mixed with one part each of the soy sauce, wasabi paste, and the oil, to create a dipping or basting sauce. For wasabi soy sauce fans, companies are producing a variety of treats with this flavorful coating. For example, wasabi soy almonds are an increasingly popular snack. These are simply that type of nut, roasted in a sweet soy sauce and dusted with wasabi powder.

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