FEEL THE HEAT
The punchy strength and flavour of Wasabi is synonymous with many cuisines across south-east Asia and its unmistakable heat is ever present in any sushi or sashimi restaurant worth its salt. Lucky Cat by Gordon Ramsay is no exception. You’ll find Wasabi alongside our Razor Clams with Green Apple, Monkfish Cheek Katsu, Pea Tempura and many other dishes. In fact, Wasabi is so important to us that we grow some of it in house.
Executive Head Chef, Ben Orpwood, got the idea to grow Wasabi at Lucky Cat from his wife. She grows the plants at home to use in her own dishes, and it made sense to incorporate their striking greenery and incredible flavour in the restaurant.
Real Wasabi is very different to the Wasabi pastes and sachets that often come with pre-packed sushi. Pre-grated Wasabi is often made primarily from Horseradish, with a small amount of Wasabi, Mustard, and green food colouring added. Whilst the heat is undeniable, the slightly sweet, earthy and grassy flavour of true Wasabi is missing. So, why isn’t Wasabi used more? Part of the reason is price (Wasabi is one of the most expensive plants anywhere across the globe) but mainly, it’s because Wasabi is incredibly volatile.
The Wasabi plant is harvested after a couple of years, and the root is what is used to make the paste – this is called the riso. When the root is cleaned, peeled, and grated it begins to release an enzyme and very intense flavours and oils. For the first few minutes, you can feel the heat. However, after a while the volatility of the chemicals in the Wasabi make it mild. Wasabi has to be grated freshly, which is why if it’s bought pre-grated, it isn’t Wasabi.
Whilst the root is used for strong flavoured pastes, the rest of the Wasabi plant can also be eaten. The beautiful green heart-shaped leaves have the recognisable flavour, but with a much more mild heat and work brilliantly in salads or as a garnish.