Mustard and Wasabi are cousins, not brothers
Mustard field in bloom
Wasabi farm being tended
Most wasabi* powder and pastes that you find in your local store is made from mustard as the major ingredient. While almost interchangeable when they are used as a condiment, they are not the same.
Mustard vs Wasabia japonica
One of the major differences between Mustard and Wasabia japonica is the fact that the heat of Mustard is contained in the Mustard seeds, while the heat of the Wasabia japonica plant is contained mainly in the swollen stem (rhizome) of the plant.
Mustard is a plant that is famous for its seeds that provide us with mustard oil. There are many varieties of mustard that are used both as a cooking medium as well as condiment in dishes. Wasabi is also a condiment mainly used in Japanese Sushi. Of the two, mustard’s use as a sauce is older and dates back to almost 6000 years ago, while Wasabi is a relatively newer type of condiment having originated in Japan in the 16th century. There are many differences between mustard and Wasabi that will be mentioned in this article.
Mustard comes in many varieties with distinct taste and flavour. Hotness of mustard seeds varies greatly and black ones are considered to be hottest. Mustard is used as a seasoning material in all sorts of dishes all over the world with even hot dogs and burgers being generously sprinkled with mustard to give a strong flavour. Mustard leaves in India are used to make a dish that is wholesome and nutritious. It is black mustard (brassica nigra) that is most pungent, while there are less strong varieties such as brown and yellow mustard.
Wasabi* is a spice that is used as a seasoning and condiment in Sushi. It is a native herb of Japan that is cultivated in cool climates found in mountainous regions of the country. Japanese make use of Wasabi in both noodles and rice. Some sushi bars are these days serving Wasabi* instead of True Wasabia japonica to improve their bottom line. Grated Wasabia japonica rhizome is converted into a paste and turned into a sauce that is used very rarely as a seasoning in Sushi in Japan these days. Even in Japan most use the fake wasabi*.
Mustard seeds are mixed with vinegar and water to create the flavor that is loved by people in all sorts of recipes. When seeds crack or burst, they release their typical flavor. As mustard seeds are naturally hot, mustard sauce need not be mixed with chilies or pepper to make it hot. For those who do not like the strong flavour, there are ingredients that are mixed to tone down the pungent smell and flavor.
What is the difference between Mustard and Wasabia japonica?
- Both mustard and Wasabi* are used as seasoning and condiment in many different dishes.
- Mustard is known to mankind since ancient times, and used all over the world with many varieties of mustard having different degrees of hotness.
- Wasabia japonica is native to Japan and is a perennial herb grown in the mountainous regions of Japan, and now elsewhere.
- Wasabi* and Wasabia japonica is added over sushi and noodles to give a strong flavor to the dishes just like mustard sauce is added to give a strong flavor to dishes.
- Both are available in powder as well as paste form (with additives).
- Wasabia japonica is a swollen stem (rhizome) of horseradish family, while mustard is the seed of the mustard plant.
- Wasabia japonica has a lot more significant health benefits than Mustard.
* Most wasabi powder and paste is made from Mustard, Horseradish, colouring and flavouring (artificial or nature). There is no True Wasabia japonica in these products at all. Read the ingredients list carefully.
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