Shizuoka is generally known for two things, and they’re both green. The prefecture is one of Japan’s biggest producers of not only tea, but also the fiery condiment paste wasabi.
While bottles of tea aren’t anything unusual, we’d never seen wasabi in liquid for until a recent visit to Shizuoka. Since spicy is one of our favorite flavors (we’d put it right up there with sweet and salty), we grabbed a bottle of wasabi sauce to try for ourselves. We were not disappointed.
Japanese travelers love buying souvenirs, and shops across Shizuoka are stocked with all sorts of wasabi products. We came across the wasabi sauce at a highway rest stop while driving through the prefecture on one of our recent adventures.
Called Wasafuru (a shortened version of Furikakeru (“Pourable”) Wasabi), the shape of the bottle leaves no question what inspired the product, as it’s almost exactly the same as a container of Tabasco.
Our bottle cost us 400 yen (US$3.70), but if you’re not in a position to go all the way out to Shizuoka to pick one up, you can also find Wasafuru at Japanese discount stores and supermarkets such as Don Quijote and Maruetsu, where it goes for about 100 yen more.
Regular wasabi is mixed with soy sauce, after which you dip your food into the resulting solution. Wasafuru, on the other hand, is poured straight onto whatever you’re eating to give it an extra kick. In Japan, the most popular thing to add Tabasco to is pizza, so that’s what we decided to use for our first Wasafuru taste test.
Because of the oil the sauce contains, we gave it a few shakes before unscrewing the top, which immediately released the piercing smell of wasabi. We hadn’t expected anything less from a product made with Shizuoka’s prized Izu Amagisan wasabi, and as we let a few drops fall onto our pizza slice, we steeled ourselves for some serious spice.
That turned out to be a good idea, because Wasafuru is powerful stuff. There’s just a tiny bit of sourness, but the rest is all hot, not to mention absolutely delicious.
Since wasabi is most commonly used with sushi and sashimi, both of which have mild tastes, we hadn’t been entirely confident that Wasafuru would go well with the heavier flavors of pizza. The sauce was more than up to the challenge though, and it also passed our follow-up tests on salad, tofu, and grilled fish and pork.
What’s more, the package also recommends using it on Japanese-style karaage fried chicken, okonomiyaki, and steak. We’re planning to try all those combinations in the near future, and in the meantime, we’re clearing out a dedicated spot in our fridge so we can always keep a bottle of Wasafuru at the ready.
[ Read in Japanese ]