Ode to Wasabi

Wasabi is beautiful. Wasabi is magic. Its flavor is unmistakable. Its fire is legendary.

The heat is somewhat reminiscent of a radish, but magnified by several orders of magnitude. The heat hits a fraction of a second after the flavor. Overdoing wasabi is an easy thing to do (and unforgettable). The flavor hits you, and for a split second you think "my this is pleasant", this is quickly followed by the heat which heats up your mouth, shoots a white hot jet of icy flame through your sinuses, and leaves you with a startled expression. The majority of the heat subsides in a matter of seconds, leaving only a slight tingle in the back of your mouth, unlike many chiles which can linger for minutes. The heat of wasabi also does not deaden the flavors of the food you are eating like some chiles can, instead it seems to liven them up.

Wasabi is one of those things that you just have to try. It is good on many things. I like it on fish (raw or cooked) especially on seared tuna or on a piece of steamed white fish like tilapia. It is also good on raw vegetables (mixed with some other ingredient to dilute it of course). Some people even mix it with mayo to use as a sandwich spread or dipping sauce. Wasabi can be found in most grocery stores and comes in two forms. The first is a prepared paste in a tube. The second is as a dried powder in a small tin. You mix the powder with a small amount of water to form a paste.

I have composed a few senryu to hail the glory that is wasabi. I hope you enjoy.

Tasty Wasabi
Exquisite essence of pain
Bring strong men to tears

Small Emerald Ball
Blessing, but not for the weak
You must respect it

Born from lowly root
Brings the foolish to their knees
Wasabi is king

Shoyu, Wasabi
Surely a delicate blend
Delicate but fierce

So by all means harness the power of wasabi.