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Taste test: wasabi sauce

Summer Steak Salad  [Photo by Michelle Stark.]

Summer Steak Salad [Photo by Michelle Stark.]

Wasabi is a spice derived from the grated bits of a Japanese plant called Wasabia Japonica. It apparently loses its flavor quickly and doesn't leave an aftertaste. Since the wasabi we enjoy alongside our sushi is strong enough to clear our sinuses and leaves a burning aftertaste, it's likely not the real deal. If that's the case, we figured we might as well pick up a store-bought variety for our homemade sushi or seafood accompaniments. Imitation wasabi is a paste usually made of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. Our panelists sampled five varieties to see which options they would keep in their pantries or refrigerators.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Seminole 66Silver Spring 63Kikkoman 59
Judges'

comments
The pale green color of this wasabi blend left a couple of judges craving a more vibrant appearance, but the flavor was anything but disappointing. "Bring on the seared salmon and arugula salad," said one panelist. Another said he would enjoy this wasabi with a thick steak of rare tuna. "It's very tasty with a pleasant, medium heat," he said. One judge didn't appreciate the aftertaste, but the others said they have come to expect the lingering heat in wasabi."This has a great taste," said one judge. "It's got great, bright color and a terrific back kick." Another liked the flecks of what she believed to be green herbs in the mixture. Judges said the texture of this wasabi made it seem more like sauce than paste. "I think it would be nice on a fish sandwich rather than with sushi," said one judge. The horseradish flavor of this option, combined with a light color, had one taster wanting to spread this on a roast beef sandwich. Another warned, "It's hot!"One panelist said this wasabi looked more like Green Goddess salad dressing. "It has good heat, but tastes a bit like mayonnaise," she said. Another liked the spreadability of this condiment and the medium level of heat. "I would add this to my cocktail sauce," she said. "I love it." Another said it was the mildest of those sampled. "Mixed with a little extra-virgin olive oil, this would be a great salad dressing," he said. Another said the wasabi made his eyes water. "But that's a good thing," he allowed. "I wish I had a sushi roll to dip into it."
Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.Three of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$3.75 for an 8-ounce jar from the Bayway Country Store in

St. Petersburg.
$3.99 for a 9.25-ounce jar from the Bayway Country Store in

St. Petersburg.
$1.98 for a 9.25-ounce bottle from Walmart.


Also Sampled: St. B Wasabi ($1.98 for a 1.52-ounce tube from Walmart, 52 points) and AFC ($4.39 for a 1.59-ounce tube from Publix, 46 points).

Panelists: Kay Hodnett, personal chef; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to mstark@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size1 teaspoon1 teaspoon1 teaspoon
Calories201010
Fat/Fiber1.5g / 0g1g / 0g1g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 30mg0g / 40mg0g / 35mg
Carbs/Protein1g / 0g1g / 0g1g / 0g

Taste test: wasabi sauce 06/20/16 [Last modified: Monday, June 20, 2016 11:22am]
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