News

The Wasabi You're Eating Isn't Actually Wasabi

Published On 10/03/2016 Published On 10/03/2016

No matter how many times you go out for sushi, the odds of getting served real wasabi are pretty close to zero. Wasabi is the Milli Vanilli of the food world. It's almost 100 percent fake (What? They danced). An incredible amount of "wasabi" served around the world is actually dyed horseradish with mustard.

A new video from Great Big Story looks at a wasabi farm in Japan to show how difficult the crop is to grow and why it is prohibitively expensive for most restaurants to serve. Horseradish has become an almost universal stand in because it mimics that nasal burn of wasabi. However, the flavors aren't identical. Real wasabi is served fresh, grated off the stalk and contains flavors that last longer and have a sweeter taste.

The fakery is so ubiquitous that most people have probably never had real wasabi. In 2014, The Washington Post reported that 99 percent of wasabi in America isn't real. And it's not better in Japan. There, it's estimated that 95 percent of wasabi isn't made with wasabi.

So, how do you tell if you're being served real wasabi? First of all, you're probably not. But if you think there's a chance, here are a few signs you're getting the real deal.

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Dustin Nelson is a News Writer with Thrillist. He holds a Guinness World Record, but has never met the fingernail lady. He’s written for Sports Illustrated, Men’s Journal, The Rumpus, and other digital wonderlands. Follow him @dlukenelson.

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