You’ve probably never had real wasabi — no matter how much sushi you eat.
The vast majority of wasabi consumed in America is simply a mix of horseradish, hot mustard, and green dye, according to a new video from the American Chemical Society.
In fact, about 99% of all wasabi sold in the US is fake, reports The Washington Post.
Even in Japan, where most wasabi is grown, you won’t have much better luck, with experts estimating that about 95% of wasabi sold in the country is an imitation.
If you’re eating real wasabi, you’re consuming the stem of a plant, grated and pulverized into a spicy paste. It reportedly has a more complex taste, but needs to be eaten immediately — within 15 minutes, the freshly grated wasabi begins to lose its signature flavour.
Horseradish has a similar chemical makeup to wasabi, allowing it to mimic its spicy zing. The far-cheaper horseradish-based “wasabi” also has the added bonus of withstanding takeout sushi orders in a way that true, freshly grated wasabi could not.
In most cases, the scams aren’t dangerous to consumers’ health. However, as the food-service industry looks for ways to cut costs, the result can be less than appetizing for customers.
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