Sushi is quite flavorful, but the dish is not complete without condiments.
Soy sauce adds that much-needed saltiness, ginger gives us a little zing, and the wasabi heightens the flavor of the fish. To truly appreciate this Japanese dish, you can’t go without the wasabi.
However, the spice can be overpowering. If you’re not careful, consuming wasabi can be quite an unpleasant experience. You can feel the burn through your nose and all the way to your sinuses.
Learning how to eat wasabi without burning your nose is key to enjoying sushi. Read on to learn more.
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Why Does Wasabi Burn?
The spice served in restaurants is often mixed with regular horseradish and mustard. That makes it significantly less expensive.
A little taste of the green stuff can feel like a slap to the senses. You might experience a sting up your nose and maybe on your tongue too. Fortunately, the burning sensation doesn’t last long.
You can almost view these burning effects as a reminder that wasabi adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
Wasabi’s burning qualities are a self-defense mechanism of the plant. Animals will think twice before deciding to munch on Japanese horseradish.
The plant contains large quantities of a compound known as allyl isothiocyanate, also found in horseradish and mustard.
Once ingested, it produces vapor that travels from your mouth, through the nose, and up to your naval cavities.
It feels like wasabi sneaks up on you because it takes some time for the vapor to make its way to your sinuses.
Tips on How to Eat Wasabi Without Burning Your Nose
Eating wasabi for the first time can feel like an assault on the senses. In addition, its robust flavor can take some getting used to.
There are, however, some tips and tricks you can use to learn how to eat wasabi without burning.
Control the Portion
A little wasabi goes a very long way. When consuming it, start by trying out the tiniest amount.
Forget pea-sized and aim for something in the region of a pinhead.
If you feel you can handle a little more than that, gradually increase the amount of wasabi on your fish.
Remember that your sushi already contains wasabi, so you don’t need to add more to your food.
Knowing what wasabi feels like when consumed is half the battle. The first taste of wasabi will probably knock your socks off.
However, the next time you reach for the spice, you will know what to expect. That will help you better handle the anticipated burn.
With time, you’ll find yourself enjoying the sensation rather than bracing yourself for it.
Unlike chili, wasabi’s burn results from the vapor it releases. Therefore, handling wasabi is about finding a way to get rid of these fumes before they cause some real damage.
Inhaling through your nose and out through the mouth should mitigate the harsh effects of wasabi. Your sinuses will thank you for it.
Just be mindful not to choke on any of that sushi rice in your mouth.
Have a Beverage at Hand
With Indian food, you would probably reach for a dairy-based beverage to help deal with the spiciness of the meal. These products could also help with wasabi, but tea also works.
Before digging into your sushi plate, drinking tea would help deal with the wasabi burn.
Tea coats the inside of your mouth as well as your throat. An extra layer of protection is created, lessening the effects of wasabi.
However, consuming the tea while eating the sushi would not be advisable. The heat from the drink would more likely aid the spread of the vapor, making the situation worse.
Carbonated drinks can also work some magic on wasabi. The bubbles from soda or sparkling water can mask the burn caused by the Japanese horseradish.
Wasabi is also soluble in water, so these beverages can wash it away, reducing the sting.
Stirring some wasabi into your soy sauce will not do you any favors with the chef. It would, however, weaken the effect of the spice, making it easier to consume.
There would also be no need to add it directly to your roll. You can then dip the sushi roll into the mixture, enjoying the wasabi without causing a burn in your nose.
Acquire the Taste
Eating wasabi frequently will help you to enjoy the robust flavor. It doesn’t mean that you have to resort to gobbling sushi rolls every day.
You can add the condiment to other dishes like sandwiches and salads. Building your tolerance to wasabi can be done if you consume a little at a time.
How to Stop Wasabi Burn
It’s easy to take more wasabi than you should. The spice can be overwhelming, and you might find yourself seeking immediate relief from its effects.
Swishing vinegar in your mouth can work wonders for a wasabi burn. The vinegar’s acidic properties curtail the chemical reaction that makes the spice sting.
You could also try a spoonful of mayonnaise or any product that contains fat. Mayo would perhaps be an easier way to go than reaching for the butter.
Fat also neutralizes the condiment, lessening its heat.
It may sound like wasabi is something to be endured rather than enjoyed, but that’s not the case.
There is a reason the spice comes as standard with every plate of sushi. Wasabi adds a depth of flavor to the dish that you don’t get from anything else. It also helps that when consuming raw fish, wasabi protects you with its antimicrobial properties.
This Japanese horseradish is one of the stars of the show. Once you learn how to eat wasabi without burning, you will be well on your way to truly enjoying that sushi.