The Wasabi Company
The English counties of Dorset and Hampshire have been home to watercress farms since the 1850s. These little peppery leaved plants are grown in long rows of waterbeds with naturally flowing water. It was watercress that led John Old and the team from The Wasabi Company to wasabi.
They saw similarities between the way watercress and wasabi are grown, but they also discovered that wasabi is a plant that is difficult to grow and had never been cultivated in Europe with any degree of success before. For John Old and his passionate team, that sounded like an exciting challenge!
They started growing wasabi in some abandoned watercress beds and, after a good deal of trial and error, brought in their first wasabi harvest two years later. Sales of wasabi now reach some of the top chefs across Europe, many of whom use wasabi in the traditional way, freshly grated as an accompaniment to sushi and sashimi.
The right balance
Wild wasabi grows alongside streams in the Japanese mountains, taking advantage of the nutrient- and oxygen-rich water. It is accustomed to mild temperatures and summer shade provided by the leaves of large trees growing along the banks of the streams. It is these conditions that The Wasabi Company recreates in its growing system using traditional Japanese cultivation techniques. Its wasabi thrives in the natural spring water rich in minerals and nutrients, which bubbles to the surface from artesian springs at the top of the beds.
Optimum conditions for growth need the right balance of sun, shade and water flow at different times of the year; by carefully controlling these, they can keep their wasabi free from the use of pesticides and growing in the best possible environment.
This sharp and spicy root is popular in countries such as Germany and Great-Britain, but is now gaining popularity in other countries. It is often confused with horse radish because they got a comparable feeling of mustard-like heat. Unlike chillies, the heat from wasabi and horseradish does not linger for very long.