God bless your nose and sinus if you are up for a wasabi meal tonight! There is no way you can eat this green condiment without that burning sensation in your body. Or is there?
What if I tell you that eating wasabi can be painless? No, I am not kidding. There are expert certified hacks that can vanish the after wasabi effect once and for all. Tricks like diluting wasabi, breathing correctly during the meal, and drinking soda help with the burning.
Get more on how to eat wasabi without burning your nose in the following write-up.
What Causes Wasabi To Burn?
Eating sushi or wasabi peas slaps you back with an unpleasant sting. But why does wasabi burn? A sneak-peek into the plant compound reveals the answer.
The wasabi rhizome or plant stems contain large quantities of isothiocyanates. One specific chemical from this compound group, Allyl isothiocyanate, is solely responsible for the burning sensation.
Allyl isothiocyanate is basically a colorless or pale yellow oil. It is volatile and vaporizes right after ingestion. The produced vapor makes it up to the nasal cavity with that stinging outrage.
The wasabi never punches back the overpowering flavor when you are in the middle of chewing. Instead, the burn sneaks up on you a little later. You will feel the heat right away as the allyl isothiocyanate vapor makes its way into your nasal cavity via your throat.
It is not true that wasabi only stings your nose. You might feel the same spicy sensation in your mouth, throat, and tongue.
Generally, allyl isothiocyanate provokes stimulation in the throat receptors. Similarly, overeating wasabi instigates heartburn in the mouth and tongue.
However, the undesired burning sensation of wasabi does not last long. The allyl isothiocyanate’s volatility and water solubility nature can not lock a tight bond to the body receptors. As a result, the spicy, stinging effect dissipates quickly.
Horseradish and mustard give you a similar burning experience because of this same allyl isothiocyanate. Such an aftertaste is considered a defense mechanism of the plant. It’s no wonder why animals who chew on the wasabi or horseradish once never dare to bite the leaves again.
While the stinging sensation of wasabi is temporary, some spices might cause more suffering. Take the chili, for instance. The capsaicin in the pepper secures a strong bond with body receptors, and hence you experience the burn for longer.
How To Eat Wasabi Without Burning
Honestly, not everyone can handle the robust wasabi flavor. But then again, if you cut out this pungent paste, the sushi or your homemade ginger hummus will no longer taste delicious. Such a tough call for a foodie, right?
Hey, don’t worry, as I am here to help.
There are actually several hacks to avoid the smacking effect of wasabi without missing out on the taste. Here, take a look,
1. Lock Load
Wasabi punches in the tastebud with this sharp, intense flavor that is not specifically spicy. It is definitely something new to the palate for someone who is tasting this green condiment for the first time. However, the entire experience will surely turn into a nightmare for someone not well aware of the wasabi stings.
So, it is wiser to prepare yourself beforehand. In fact, if you know what you are getting into, you might actually like the solid rough taste of wasabi.
2. Know Your Limit
From my experience, I can assure you one thing. Dipping your sushi in a handful of wasabi is the decision you will regret within the next few minutes.
While a bit of wasabi bursts in your mouth with flavor, making a feast on it will burn your senses. Thus, aim low.
Take the tiniest amount of wasabi and see how you handle the taste. You can increase the portion gradually if you feel like going all in.
3. Inhale! Exhale!
Who would have thought the traditional breathing practice saves you from wasabi burn? See, you get the smacking after effect because of the allyl isothiocyanate vapor. However, if you can channel the fume in a controlled manner, it will leave your system without burning the receptors.
Just inhale through your nose and exhale via your mouth while consuming wasabi. And voila! There is no stinging or unpleasant sensation slapping your nose and sinus.
However, our brain is not accustomed to breathing this way while eating. Hence be careful not to choke on whatever main course you are having.
4. A Beverage Can Help
Apparently, drinking beverages like carbonated soda and sparkling water makes the wasabi less burning. Actually, the bubbles do the magic in masking the sting.
Well, you can reduce the sensation with usual drinking water too. As wasabi is soluble, any liquid will wash the paste away.
Again, tea is considered another way of minimizing the sting. But you have to drink it before digging into wasabi, not in the middle of the meal.
Tea offers a protective coating inside your mouth and throat, preventing the interaction of allyl isothiocyanate fumes and receptors. As a consequense, no buring at all.
However, what if you drink tea after consuming wasabi? In the matter, brace yourself for the upcoming surge of suffering on your way. The hot tea will aid the vapor in spreading and traveling fast, making your sinus, mouth, and throat pay for the mistake.
How Do You Make Wasabi Burn Less?
Going slow, adopting the breathing technique, or gulping a beverage, each trick makes wasabi less burning. Who would mind a few more hacks to eliminate the stinging aftertaste of this green condiment? Here it goes,
1. Get Your Hand On The Real Stuff
Did you know wasabi comes in different grades? The ones we usually taste in restaurants or even at home are most probably the low-grade mix-up.
While the real wasabi is mildly hot and gives you a tolerable spicy smackdown, the cheap one burns badly. In reality, the manufacturers blend mustard powder and other ingredients to make this paste more available and economical. So, you actually experience the strong, spicy flavor of mustard in the name of wasabi.
The exquisite restaurants serve medium-grade and high-end wasabi to the customers. Such condiments have a lovely, semi-spicy taste. But surprisingly, people prefer the low-grade, spicy wasabi for regular use and as their dippings.
However, if you want to enjoy the real wasabi, check these 5 wasabi pastes for authentic texture and flavor.
|Shizuoka Wasabi Paste
|Authentic Japanese wasabi flavor, crispy texture, ready to use.
|S&B Prepared Wasabi Paste
|Authentic wasabi flavor, pungency, and aroma; ready to use.
|Muso Real Wasabi
|All-natural ingredients, a sharp and pungent flavor.
|Wasabi-O Wasabi Paste
|Mild, pungent, smooth, and creamy; easy to use.
|Japanese Choice Wasabi Paste
|Mild, ready to use
2. Make Fusion
The green condiment gives you a punch of robust flavor down your nose and throat. However, mixing it with soy sauce or any medium will definitely balance out the intense taste and make it more edible.
Take a pinhead amount of wasabi, put it into the dark soy liquid, and give the bowl a good swirl. This way, you can enjoy wasabi without compromising the main dish taste.
3. Build Your Tolerance
Adding wasabi to your regular meals makes you accustomed to the intense flavor and builds resistance in your system. Consequently, you will get used to the burning sensation in no time.
People often mistake thinking that wasabi only goes with sushi. Well, a big NO! You can use wasabi in any dish, from a sandwich to salad to your rice bowl. In addition, this green paste will enhance the taste, making the diet healthier.
What Is The Proper Way To Eat Wasabi?
The taste of wasabi can be confusing for some people, especially those just exploring this flavor. I understand if you have difficulty determining the proper way of eating wasabi. However, the techniques might contradict the hacks we have just learned.
See, mixing wasabi in soy sauce is a well-established practice to weaken the smacking flavor. But the experts and chefs strongly discourage doing this. According to them, the soy sauce will destroy the wasabi flavor, and you will be left with nothing but the dark, salty liquid.
However, the wasabi grade definitely matters in such cases. The genuine, pure, freshly grated wasabi loses its sole flavor to any liquid within 30 seconds. This high-grade paste also takes a hit on the taste when kept in contact with air. For these reasons, the chefs are instructed to take the responsibility of adding wasabi under the topping.
Yes, the sushi on your plate is already seasoned with wasabi. So all you have to do is to enjoy it! However, for some dishes, wasabi is served on the side. In such cases, put a little dab of this condiment on one side of your food and soy sauce on the other to balance the taste.
In short, most restaurants serve dishes already complemented with wasabi or in a form tolerable to you. Hence, you do not have to show your chef skills.
However, if you are using a commercial wasabi paste, it will burn your nose and mouth. So there might be no other option but to mix the condiment with whatever sauce you have to lessen the pungent flavor.
Why Is Wasabi So Painful?
The overpowering odor with the robust taste is what makes wasabi painful. Even tasting a pinch of this paste can burn your nose and mouth. However, if you dive deeper, you will find some chemicals are causing this sting.
Wasabi or the Japanese horseradish plants contain Sinigrin and Myrosinase. When these two chemicals combine, they create allyl isothiocyanate. Once ingested, this compound vaporizes and travels upwards. The fume affects your mucous membrane and esophagus, burning down the nose, mouth, and throat.
Some feel a stinging sensation in the brain right after having wasabi. However, the brain receptors are not entitled to undergo such experience. In reality, the nasal cavity network goes beyond its limit and transmits the tingling effect to the brain.
Wasabi is undoubtedly beneficial as it promotes antibacterial properties and healthy digestion. However, the taste of this condiment can be a bit confusing for some people. But with time, people actually fall in love with wasabi. The hacks on how to eat wasabi without burning will definitely help you enjoy the sushi or sashimi even more. However, for an instant stop, swishing vinegar can do wonders.