Is Wasabi Spicy?

If you enjoy spicy foods, you may be wondering if wasabi is very spicy for most people. This is a commonly asked question as people have often heard about wasabi and how spicy it is but are not sure if it lives up to the hype.

Wasabi is part of the mustard family and grows in thick, greenish roots, similar to ginger. The wasabi is often grated down into a paste that is used as a typical condiment for a variety of oriental food and fish dishes.

It is known for its strong and fresh flavor that can easily be overpowering depending on how much you use. It is less common in the United States but is becoming more popular as people are trying it out in restaurants.

Keep reading to find out whether or not wasabi is spicy, and just what this type of condiment tastes like and what it is eaten with.

Wasabi Is Very Spicy

If you are interested in trying wasabi, you may be wondering if it is spicy. The majority of people would describe wasabi as being extremely spicy and difficult to eat for those who are sensitive to hot kinds of food.

wasabi crackers in a plate

Wasabi is the kind of spicy that usually hits your nose before it hits your mouth. This is why many people find it irritating to their nose when they are eating anything with wasabi, as the heat affects them differently.

This is why you may be more sensitive to the spiciness of wasabi than you are to other kinds of spicy foods. As it does not directly affect your mouth like a lot of spicy foods do.

Because of this, wasabi is often used in very small amounts to add flavor and spiciness. It is not usually added in large quantities as that would be extremely overpowering and uncomfortable for the person who is eating it.

Wasabi is most traditionally eaten with sushi as a condiment on the side. The spiciness complements the fresh fish flavors, and just the tiniest amount of wasabi is enough to really give your sushi a punch of flavor.

There Are Real and Fake Kinds of Wasabi

When talking about wasabi, it is important to mention that there are real and fake kinds of wasabi paste out there. In fact, you are most likely to happen upon fake wasabi than you are to be served real wasabi.

Fake wasabi is much more popular and is commonly sold in grocery stores as well as served at restaurants. You will usually only find real wasabi at high-quality restaurants as they will grate the wasabi right in front of you when you are about to eat.

This is because real wasabi is much lighter in flavor ,and the flavor quickly starts to deteriorate once it is grated. Which is why a chef will usually grate wasabi fresh at your table so that you get to enjoy it and all of its glory.

So real wasabi is typically going to be lighter in flavor and not nearly as spicy as you may think. It is fake wasabi that is often made out of horseradish that has a much stronger and spicier flavor.

Fake wasabi is also going to have a much smoother consistency when it is a thick paste. As the horseradish will have been blended down to resemble wasabi paste.

Real wasabi paste is going to be much more coarse and gritty as it will not be blended but grated. These are some ways that you can tell the two apart as well as the strength of flavor and just how spicy they are.

As fake wasabi is going to be much more potent and have a stronger spicy flavor that is more intense than fresh wasabi.

Is Wasabi Bitter?

One aspect of wasabi is that it has quite a strong, bitter note to it. This is not as noticeable in wasabi paste as the grating process helps to bring out the spice, which overpowers the bitterness.

large amount of wasabi

But if you were to bite into a wasabi root, you would find that it was mostly better and not as spicy. Only a small amount of bitterness stays in the wasabi once it has been grated down into a rough paste to be used as a condiment.

Like many types of roots, the grating process and exposing the flesh to the air helps to bring out other flavors and spices. Enhancing the flavor and helping to mask some of the bitter notes that may not be nearly as enjoyable.

What Does Wasabi Taste Like?

If you have never tried wasabi before, you may be wondering what this condiment tastes like and what you should be expecting. This is another common question, as many people are completely unfamiliar with what to expect, when it comes to wasabi.

This is a rather mysterious type of condiment that many people have never tried before. Especially since it is only served with certain kinds of foods and most people do not buy it in stores.

If you are interested in trying wasabi, you should know what to expect and what kind of flavors you will most likely experience. Especially if you want to try fresh wasabi but do not know how to tell the difference between fresh and fake wasabi paste.

Hot Mustard

Many people describe wasabi as having a hot mustard flavor to it. Something that is very understandable considering the fact that wasabi is in the mustard family.

The flavor will be sharp and slightly better, with potent spicy notes that hit the back of your throat and nose. It is the kind of spice that usually hits you after you have swallowed your food, having a lingering spicy effect.

Some people may notice the mustard notes in wasabi more than others depending on your taste buds. Though it will be a very unique hot mustard flavor that is not like the normal mustard condiments that you have tried.


Another thing that people compare wasabi to is horseradish, as these two products have a similar flavor. Which is why many people may use horseradish in place of wasabi to create a fake wasabi paste.

Horseradish and wasabi are both very potent and sharp flavors that have intense spiciness. The real wasabi paste should also have a freshness to the flavor that is very noticeable, as it should have been freshly grated before being served.

If it does not taste fresh, it is most likely fake wasabi that is made primarily of blended horseradish, not wasabi root.

Wasabi Is a Healthy Option

Many people may be shocked to realize that wasabi is not just a delicious condiment option. It is also quite healthy, when compared to a variety of other kinds of condiments that you may have used before.

chopped wasabi on a board

Fresh wasabi is full of vitamins and minerals, providing nutritional qualities when you are consuming it. Something that you will not find in the majority of US condiments as they are highly processed and hold no nutritional quality.

Some of the vitamins and minerals that are found in higher quantities and wasabi are vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Making this a condiment that has great nutritional qualities to it.

Though it is important to mention that you most likely won’t get many of these benefits as you are not going to be consuming wasabi in large quantities. But wasabi is healthy in general, as it contains no added ingredients if it is real wasabi.

Unlike other condiments that have preservatives, colorants, sweeteners, and many other additives that are not healthy for you. So any kind of condiment that has few ingredients is going to be considered to be a healthier option.

Wasabi Can be Eaten Raw

You may wonder if you can consume wasabi raw without having any kind of side effects. The reality is that wasabi is always going to be served raw, as that is the best state to serve it in for the best flavor.

You are never going to see wasabi being served cooked as that is going to remove all of the delicious flavors that you are looking for. It is always served raw in order to preserve the flavor and enhance the spiciness.

Wasabi is usually served finely grated to create a rough paste that can be added to a variety of foods as a light condiment. Only a tiny amount of this paste is enough to add a bunch of flavor as well as a burst of spiciness to your food.

You may also see thinly sliced wasabi that is pickled that can also be used as a spicy and sour condiment. This goes great with all kinds of sushi and various, other dishes that could use a burst of flavor and spice.

Final Thoughts

If you have never tried wasabi before, you may not know just how spicy this condiment really is. As wasabi is known for having very potent spiciness that hits you at the back of your throat and your nose when you eat it.

Though it is important to remember that there is real and fake wasabi out there, the real wasabi is much lighter in flavor and not as overpowering.