Firstly, what is Nordic Wasabi, where is it grown and why is it different from "normal" wasabi we find in our usual supermarkets?
Nordic wasabi is the first real wasabi grown in the Nordics. The wasabi comes from the real wasabi plant and it must be noted that fresh Nordic Wasabi has little in common with the green stuff that most people in Europe and the USA know as wasabi. The green stuff is, in fact, a combination of mustard, horseradish, and food coloring. You haven’t tasted wasabi until you’ve had it fresh.
Fresh wasabi is a unique produce that is widely used in high-end Japanese cuisine, fusion cuisine, and Nordic cuisine. It has a fruity, vegetal fragrance and a spiciness that enhances flavor. The taste of fresh wasabi does not hit with the same intensity as western wasabi does, rather it’s bouquet and sweetness stimulate the palate with a balanced heat that is experienced more in the sinuses than on the tongue.
How is wasabi present in Nordic cuisine and how did it first appear there?
Nordic wasabi has been a popular newcomer in the Nordic cuisine since it first became available in 2017. The whole wasabi plant is edible and chefs have been experimenting with the leafs, flowers and of course the stem of the plant, that is grated down to make the fine wasabi paste. One of the first restaurants to use our ingredient was Noma in Copenhagen, renowned for their experimental and out of the box thinking in their approach to cooking. Today many restaurants in the Nordics that represent the Nordic cuisine have adopted the wasabi and experimented in very innovating ways to make amazing dishes with the wasabi and to further add to the experimental and new Nordic cuisine.
What are your views on sustainability and how have you achieved this with your products?
We highly emphasise sustainability in all aspects of our operation. All our electricity is internationally certified as being 100% renewable hydroelectric power. We use sustainable geothermal heat to keep the greenhouses warm during the colder months and regulate the temperature with fresh air during the warmer months. We water the plants with pure water that is certified as pure Icelandic drinking water.
In an increasingly polluted world, it is good to know that fresh wasabi is being grown in the pure Icelandic environment using renewable hydroelectricity and a replenishing supply of drinking water that has been naturally purified through layers of volcanic rock (according to the World Bank, Iceland holds the top spot for renewable internal water resource per capita).
Why is wasabi good for us?
In studies, fresh wasabi has been shown to be antimicrobial, which is probably why it became the traditional companion for raw fish. Some studies even suggest that it may have anticarcinogenic, anti inflammatory, and blood thinning properties. Furthermore fresh wasabi can improve digestion and is full of vitamins.
Can you share with us a little recipe using your fresh wasabi that might surprise our readers?
Fresh wasabi is traditionally ground with shark skin and served with noodles and sushi—more wasabi with oily fish and less with leaner fish. In recent years, however, chefs experimenting with fusion cuisine are finding new uses for it, for example, with steak, with ice cream, and even for use in cocktails.
We recommend trying fresh wasabi with red meat for example with rib eye steaks. The wasabi compliments the meat and is a leaner and fresher alternative than traditional steak sauces.
Following is a recipe for the wasabi mule cocktail, a new cocktail that has been popular in the Icelandic cocktail scene.
4,5 cl vodka
2,5cl lemon juice
2,5cl sugar syrup
Top off with ginger beer
5gr. nordic wasabi
Thank you to Johan & the team at Nordic Wasabi for answering these little questions for Crème zine and sharing with us some insights into the innovative world of wasabi from the North!