What do you see when you have a look at the ingredients list on the Wasabi product you are buying at the store?
Well, you certainly do not see the word “Wasabi” or “Wasabia japonica” on the label as an ingredient very often.
Those words might be on the front of the label, but they are nowhere where they are supposed to be – on the ingredients list!
What is on that ingredients list is likely to be;
Mustard (all commercial mustard crops are now GMO),
Artificial colouring (Blue & Yellow) – both now regarded as cancer causing,
A filler such Tapioca powder, potato flour, rice flour, cornflour or even wheat flour, (to make the amount you are getting look more).
That is assuming that you are getting a dry powder.
It gets even worse if you buy a pre-prepared paste you use straight from the tube.
These tubes contain;
Horseradish, [This is what Wasabia japonica is normally compared to, and while it contains the same main chemical as wasabi, it does not contain any of the unique cancer
killing and health promoting chemicals that true wasabi has. For the non-connoisseur there is little discernible difference in taste – especially in large quantities.]
Mustard, [All commercial mustard crops are now GMO. Mustard does and can cause a serious allergic reaction in some people and needs to be avoided by people allergic to mustard.]
Humectant : E420 [This is Sorbitol. (i) Sorbitol is commercially produced from glucose by high-pressure hydrogenation or electrolytic reduction. (ii) Sorbitol syrup is a water
based solution of sorbitol and hydrogenated carbohydrates. Sorbitol is converted to sugar in the bloodstream, but as it is only absorbed slowly not requiring insulin, it is a useful
source of sugar for diabetics.
Used as a sweetening agent and substitute for glycerol (E422). Sorbitol also masks the bitter after taste of saccharin in drinks and helps to maintain the physical texture of chewy
sweets. Also used as a humectant to preserve moisture, colour dilutent, stabiliser and texturiser. Extends the shelf life of syrups containing sucrose as it reduces the tendency to
deposit crystals on storage.
Found in chocolates, diabetic soft drinks, ice cream, diabetic jams, pastries and cakes, raisins and sweets, and in pre-prepared wasabi paste.
Large amounts can cause flatulence and can have a laxative effect.
It is not allowed in foods intended specifically for babies or young children, its use is not allowed for infants younger than 1 year of age, as it may cause severe diarrhea.
Used as a Stabiliser, low-calorie sweetener, bulking agent, etc.
Rice Bran Oil, [This is probably there to make the wasabi paste to actually flow. With all the thickeners and fillers added they need some sort of lubricant so it doesn’t turn into a
Salt, [I suspect that this is used as a preservative, along with the Acid : E330 (see below) to keep the colour of the paste turning brown during storage.]
Dextrin, [Dextrin is used in many glue products, even children’s school glue, because it is safe, cheap and non-toxic. It is also commonly used in the processing of food and
Wasabia Japonica, [This is added for the EU market where there is a requirement that if Wasabi is shown as part of the product name, then it must actually be present. This is not
the case in most other markets such as USA. I suspect that the part of the plant that is used is the leaf, which contains little wasabi flavour.]
Potato Starch, [Potato Starch is used as a thickener for sauces, soups, stews and wasabi paste. GMO Potatoes do exist and it looks like they might get approved to be grown in
the EU to produce Potato Starch.]
Water, [Under GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) rules the water used must be potable (drinking quality).]
Natural Flavour, [The label “natural flavour” is misleading. MSG may be legally labelled “natural flavour” in order to hide it. Chemically speaking, there’s not much difference
between a natural flavor and an artificial one. Natural flavor is a catchall term for any number of (naturally derived) chemicals concocted to enhance the taste of your wasabi
paste. Even stranger, that chemical cocktail doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the food in hand. So this could be anything. 🙁 ]
Turmeric, [This is used as the yellow colour which when mixed with E133 (see below) turns the paste green. In most places outside Europe the yellow is provided by the use of
Tartrazine (E102 or FD&C Yellow 5 or a few other names including “color”). The Canadian Compendium of Pharmaceuticals and Specialties (CPS), a prescribing reference book for health professionals, mentions tartrazine as a potential allergy.]
Acid : E330 [This is Citric Acid – but there is a difference between natural citric acid (from lemons and pineapples), and artificial citric acid. There is no problem with naturally
occurring citric acid. Artificially produced E330 or 330 additive, depending on where or how it is produced by using sulphuric acid, many believe the product might still contain
mold and sulfur/sulphites not filtered out completely during the production (Sulphur dioxide and other sulphites (also referred to as sulfites) are among food additives causing
asthmatic and allergic reactions.) For most people sulphites are safe, but for example sensitive aspirin allergies or asthma sufferers can react very severely to sulphites.]
Thickener : E415 [E415 is Xanthan Gum and is made by fermenting corn sugar with a bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris. It’s the same bacteria that creates black spots on
broccoli and cauliflower. The result is a slimy goo that is then dried up and ground into a fine white powder. It acts as a thickener to hold the paste together so it does not
separate. Nutritionally, xanthan gum is a carbohydrate with 7 grams of fiber per tablespoon. This may cause bloating in some people. Xanthan gum may be derived from a
variety of sources such as corn, wheat, or soy. People with an allergy to one of the above, need to avoid foods with xanthan gum, or to ascertain the source.]
Colour : E133 [E133 – Brilliant Blue FCF, FD&C Blue 1, A blue synthetic coal tar dye often used in conjunction with E102, Tartrazine, to produce various shades of green.
Can be found in tinned processed peas and wasabi paste. It is one of the colours that the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group recommends be eliminated from the diet of
children. Prohibited in Argentina, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Mauritius, Morocco, Poland, Portugal, Trinidad and Turkey.
How to Make Wasabi Paste easily.
As you can see from the above ingredient list, if you want to make a wasabi paste that lasts as long as the store-bought stuff, you will need a chemistry and food technologists degree.
An easier way of making a wasabi paste is to use Namida 100% Pure Wasabi Powder, some cold water, 5 minutes of your time and a stirring spoon.
Here is a video of How to make Wasabi Paste using the powder that only has one ingredient – 100% Wasabia japonica rhizome powder. Enjoy!