How to Eat Wasabi with Sushi (Answered!)

As beloved as sushi is, many people aren’t eating it correctly.

Soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi are standard with every sushi serving. These condiments bring out the rich flavors of your roll. But only if they’re used the right way.

Knowing what works and what doesn’t can be tricky for this Japanese dish. After reading this article, you’ll learn how to eat wasabi with sushi like a pro.

how to eat wasabi with sushi

What You Need to Know About Wasabi

Wasabi serves two primary purposes when added to your sushi: it has antibacterial properties and makes the food taste better.

When consuming a raw dish, having a little something to fight off bacteria is a huge plus.

Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and can be pretty expensive as it’s relatively rare.

Restaurants, therefore, mix it with regular horseradish and mustard. The mix is carefully crafted to ensure that it’s in proportions that best complement the fish.

With a taste as bold as its bright green color, wasabi can have an overpowering flavor. A tiny amount of the horseradish on your tongue will hit you hard.

That’s why the best way to eat wasabi with sushi is in small doses – a little goes a very long way.

What Is the Correct Way to Eat Wasabi With Sushi?

Like many things in life, eating your sushi can be a matter of preference. You might prefer a little more soy sauce than the next guy.

Sushi chefs take decades to master their craft. The careful balancing of flavors is something they do at an expert level.

So, following how they want you to consume this dish might be worth your while.

Adding Japanese horseradish to your meal might be a matter of preference, but even so, there is a correct way to eat wasabi with sushi.

Traditionally, sushi is eaten with the fingers. That doesn’t mean that all that time you spent mastering those chopsticks has gone to waste, though. There is a time and place for them too.

But, of course, the best spot to enjoy your meal is right at the counter. Japanese restaurants are designed to enable you to watch the chef do his thing.

Once your sushi has been laid out for you, pour a little soy sauce into the bowl. It’s recommended that you don’t fill the bowl but put just enough to cover the bottom. Now you can dig in.

The sushi roll on your plate already contains wasabi. The chef places it on the inside of the roll, between the rice and the fish.

Additional wasabi is, therefore strictly speaking, not necessary. You can, of course, add some if you’re looking for a little extra sizzle.

To add wasabi to your sushi, use your fingers or the chopsticks to place a small amount of it on the fish.

The chopsticks might be a better way to go, though. Using your fingers and then rubbing your eyes later would probably cause you a great deal of discomfort.

You can now dip your roll in the soy sauce. The fish, not the rice, should come into contact with the sauce—though this can be tricky to do depending on the type of sushi you have.

Sushi rice can act a bit like a sponge, soaking up more soy sauce than you require. The extra sodium will throw off the delicate balance of flavors.

When eating nigiri, things are done a little differently. You will still dip your fish in the soy sauce, but the wasabi will go on the rice for a more balanced flavor.

Refrain from cutting up your roll into smaller sizes. It’s designed to be eaten in one bite to get the most of the blend of tastes and textures.

How Much Wasabi Do You Need to Use with Sushi?

Using wasabi requires a delicate balance. Too much, and it overpowers the roll. Too little, and it’s not enough to bring out the flavors of the fish.

Before your sushi is served, it already contains wasabi. The chef has added an amount that he feels properly complements the fish.

If you’re looking for a little extra spice, however, you can go ahead and add a little more for yourself.

It shouldn’t be more than a light brushing of the green paste. Anything more than that will overpower the fish.

Is Mixing Wasabi and Soy Sauce Rude?

Mixing wasabi with soy sauce is a big no-no. Although some might prefer it this way, it’s not optimal to use either ingredient.

In addition, combining the wasabi and soy sauce inhibits the flavor of both, lessening your experience.

If you have the soy sauce bowl all to yourself, you can add some wasabi. A word of warning, though, this will most likely be frowned upon. It will probably also offend the chef.

But, at the end of the day, it’s your meal, and you are free to consume it however you please.

Mixing wasabi and soy sauce might be considered okay when eating a seafood bowl. Pouring the mixture over the rice and fish works as everything goes into the same bowl anyway.

The flavor parcel isn’t consumed in one bite. You would still need to be careful with the amount of soy sauce and wasabi you add to the seafood bowl.

In Summary

If you’re looking for tips on eating wasabi with sushi, the answer is to leave it to the chef. A sushi roll might seem like a simple thing to put together, but it’s not.

Unlike other dishes with separate components, a bite of sushi has everything rolled into one. That means the chef has taken particular care to balance out all the flavors before serving you the dish.

Wasabi, with its robust taste, can easily throw off this balance. It might be best to leave it as a colorful decoration on your side plate, as it’s already incorporated into your roll.

If you really must have wasabi, then just a dab should be enough for each roll.