If you have ever been to an Asian restaurant that serves sushi, you have probably noticed the green paste that goes between the fish and rice. This green paste is called Wasabi and it is a condiment used in sushi and other Asian dishes.
Wasabi, often referred to as Japanese horseradish, is the root of the Wasabia japonica plant which is actually a variety of cabbage. It has a smooth texture and an effect that hits your nasal passages in seconds. The flavor is a little pungent but the strong flavor does not keep burning like chili peppers or jalapenos. A few sips of water or milk will dissolve the taste from your tongue.
When used for sushi, the root is grated fresh and mixed in a bowl or crock with a tight lid. A small amount is placed on the plate as a condiment to be stirred into the shoyu or soy sauce for dipping. The proper method is to pick up a small amount of Wasabi with your chopsticks and stir into the soy sauce, dip the sushi in it fish side down, and eat the whole bite at once.
The Wasabi and pickled ginger served in restaurants and packaged in sushi packages bought at the supermarket enhance the flavor and cleanse the palate for the next bite of sushi. Both have an astringent property which are antimicrobial in nature and at one time it was a belief this helps keep down the incidences of sickness from raw fish. Of course we now know that the fish served in sushi restaurants is a higher grade of fish grown specifically for consuming raw and handled according to food safety requirements.
If you are not used to eating Wasabi, it is recommended to consume it in small amounts due to the effect it has on the sinuses and nasal passages. It is good and many people like it as a condiment for their food. Try a little when visiting Asian restaurants.