Shima wasabi was established in Northern Tasmania to bring the experience of real, fresh wasabi to Australia. We take advantage of Tasmania’s cool climate, clean air and plentiful rain providing the ideal environment for growing such a rare and valuable plant.
Most wasabi sold around the world in tubes or as powder is not actually wasabi. It is predominately a substitute made from horseradish mustard, sugar, salt and green food colouring. Often packages labeled as wasabi do not contain any part of the wasabi plant. This is because wasabi is difficult to grow and takes care and skill to harvest. Our mission at Shima Wasabi is to deliver the authentic wasabi experience to the table.
Sharing the same latitude as southern Japan, Tasmania has the required attributes that to grow exceptional wasabi. Wasabi is traditionally grown along stream beds in mountain rivers of Japan. Tasmania is very fortunate to have some of the the cleanest air in the world and with the plentiful rain we are able to grow wasabi all year round.
The hero of the wasabi plant is the rhizome or stem which must be finely grated into a paste to release the distinctive heat and pungency. Whilst wasabi is most commonly associated with sushi and sashimi, it is also the ideal accompaniment for beef, chicken, oysters, salmon and other seafood. Wasabi can also be used to spice up your favourite dressing or dip. Add wasabi to hommus or guacamole to give it a fresh kick. If you’re feeling really adventurous then you can even add it to cocktails such as a bloody mary or martini.
At Shima Wasabi we utilise the whole plant with leaves, leaf stalks and flower also used. The leaves are great for canapés and are supplied to restaurants and caterers all around Australia. The stalks are crisp with the distinctive flavour and pungent heat produced by wasabi when eaten is a natural defense mechanism to warn off predators who would like to eat the plant. Ironically, it is now the reason why humans cultivate and eat it. The flavour and pungency is only produced once the cell walls of the plant are broken down by grating the stems into a fine paste causing a chemical reaction to occur. The flavour and heat will take 3-5 minutes to fully develop but will dissipate after around 30 minutes.
Wasabi contains anti-oxidants and allyl isothiocyanates. It is the isothiocyanates (ITCs) produced when wasabi is grated that led to wasabi’s reputation as a healthy food. Anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic qualities inherent in ITCs are probably the reason that wasabi has been traditionally served with raw fish dishes as wasabi was used to counter the effect of food poisoning by killing bacteria and parasites in the fish. Studies also suggest that wasabi contains anti inflammatory, anti oxidant and anti-viral properties. along with other famously healthy members of the basic family that produce ITCs, like broccoli and watercress, wasabi has recently become an important tool in research into cancer prevention and treatment.
Other health claims relating to wasabi include:
- It is a source of vitamin C
- Low cholesterol
- Contributes to heart health
- Contributes energy for normal metabolism
- Reduces total blood cholesterol and reduces blood pressure