Wasabi vegetable root is a member of the Brassicaceae family, which includes cabbage, mustard and horseradish. Wasabi is often referred to as Japanese horseradish. Wasabi plants are native perennials found along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan.
Wasabi greens can be eaten raw and you use them in cooking – they can be sautéed, juiced, or used raw in a salad. Although the foliage of wasabi plants can be eaten fresh and are sometimes dried for use in other processed foods or pickled in sake brine or soy sauce, the root is the prize. Wasabi can be used as a condiment with sushi or sashimi but it is also delicious in noodle soups, as a condiment for grilled meats and veggies, or added to dips, marinades and salad dressings.
Wasabi is native to Japan, and grows best in a wet, warm climate between7 °C and 24 °C. It prefers loose, organic-rich, soil that is somewhat moist. It also prefers a soil pH between 6 and 7. If you are going to grow wasabi in your backyard you need to make sure that your wasabi plants have full shade. If a wasabi plant gets sunlight it will wither and droop very quickly. Make sure the soil drains well. Wasabi likes to be kept moist, but not muddy and waterlogged.
Soak the seeds overnight prior to planting. Soaking will help to soften the seed shells and make it easier for the wasabi to germinate. Sow the seeds one to two inches apart and press them lightly into the soil. Keep the soil and seedlings moist. Wasabi is a semi-aquatic plant that must be kept wet to flourish. Every day, mist the soil and the sprouting seedlings with fresh, cool water to emulate splashes from natural water sources, like a stream or waterfall. If the wasabi is allowed to dry out, it will begin to wilt.
Care for the plants for two years before harvest. Wasabi doesn’t develop its distinctive flavor until it becomes mature after about 24 months. During this time the wasabi will grow about two feet tall and two feet wide. It will stop getting taller and wider, and start putting energy into growing a long, carrot-like rhizome beneath the soil.