Tabasco sauce is perhaps the greatest culinary invention to come out of the United States. Even here in Japan Tabasco is used to spice up foods like donburi, curry, pizza and—of course—instant ramen.
However, we recently discovered a Japanese spin-off of the beloved pepper sauce that seems eager to assert itself as a product of Japan.
The appropriately-titled WASASCO sauce is made with wasabi from Izu city, an area well-known for its wasabi production. Sankakuya, the Izu-based company behind WASASCO, claims that “just by mixing a dab of WASASCO sauce, you can perfect the flavor of your sauces and seasonings used at home.”
The website suggests adding a bit of WASASCO to soy sauce, Japanese-style salad dressing and mayonnaise, but, as the box label says, “How you use it is up to you!”
I ordered a bottle for myself, and when it arrived I couldn’t help but laugh at the box.
On one side, a samurai raising his battle cry of “WASASCO HYU～!” as Mt. Fuji stands tall in the backdrop. On the opposite side, a vehement geisha yelling “WASABI HI～!” as the Shinkansen races past from behind. And all four of the Japanese symbols are conveniently labeled in English, in case there was any confusion among the foreigners Sankakuya is blatantly appealing to.
Assuming WASASCO was more or less a wasabi substitute, I chose sashimi for my first taste test. The smell was far more pungent than I had expected and ruined the flavor of the sashimi.
I figured my mistake was not mixing it with other sauces as the website advised, and tried mixing it with soy sauce to use in a stir-fry. This time the WASASCO flavor didn’t come through at all.
Finally, mixing WASASCO with French dressing and mayonnaise yielded much tastier results. It seems WASASCO is best combined with creamy sauces, and would perhaps go well with raw vegetables or grilled fish. As a word of caution, as with the standard Tabasco sauce, WASASCO is very spicy, and only a few drops are needed to make the flavor noticeable.
Why not see what the samurai and geisha are screaming about and import a bottle of WASASCO for yourself?