When it comes to enjoying sushi, having wasabi paste handy is definitely a must, but would it still be good even after you freeze it?
Can you freeze wasabi paste? You can but the difference in preparation will have an impact on the quality of the product once it has been thawed. A lot of it will depend on the type of wasabi paste, whether it’s the pre-packaged type, the powdered wasabi that is formed, or the grated wasabi rhizome. These will require different steps.
On that note, even when you freeze wasabi, this doesn’t guarantee quality or safety once it has been thawed. You still need to judge whether it can be consumed or just thrown away.
How to Freeze Different Wasabi Pastes
Generally speaking, you should not be freezing wasabi pastes if you can help it. It’s not that it will become unsafe to eat or that it will automatically become less palatable. The reason is simply that the taste and the quality will not be the same. For anyone who values getting the most out of their sushi enjoyment, this is an issue.
For those who don’t mind such a thing, however, approaching the process of freezing wasabi paste will depend on the type. There are three main types of wasabi pastes, as are shown in the table below:
|Wasabi Paste Type||Description|
|Pre-made Wasabi Paste||Wasabi paste that is usually sold in tubes like toothpaste. You only need to squeeze out the amount you need and reseal.|
|Wasabi Powder Formed Into Paste||Packaged wasabi powder that requires water to be turned into paste.|
|Grated Wasabi Rhizome||The root of the wasabi plant that is grated and broken down, and packaged carefully.|
In order for you to successfully freeze any of these types of wasabi pastes, you will need to pay attention to a few crucial details. You can refer to the following for that:
· Preparation process
· Storage method
· Duration of freezing
· Thawing process
Of the three types of wasabi pastes, the pre-made one is the easiest to deal with. You basically just place the tube in the freezer. You do have to separate it from potential contaminants like blood and viscera, so placing it in a container might be a good idea.
Do try to make sure that the temperature of the freezer is only at -4C since you increase the chances of freezer burn when you get lower than that. As long as you can maintain that, the paste should last you a few months.
As for wasabi powder that was turned into paste, you can either place it in an airtight container and then seal it with clear film, or you wrap the paste directly with clear film. The main goal is to avoid moisture building up inside the container, which could ruin the paste. This method will allow the paste to remain frozen for a few weeks.
Finally, the grated wasabi rhizome paste, which is the most delicate of the bunch. Ideally, you should only consume this type right away since the root is supposed to be grated just as you eat sushi. If you have to freeze it, though, you need to wrap it tightly in clear film and make it into a compact form. You then place it in a container, which you will also wrap in clear film.
Doing this will allow the paste to be frozen for a few days, but no more than that. Since this is fresh wasabi, it should not be frozen for very long.
Thawing Wasabi Pastes
When it comes to the thawing process of wasabi pastes, you need to pay particular attention to temperature and the rate of softening. While it is unlikely for there to be an issue with the paste in the tube, the other two types are going to require some delicate handling. This is why it is best to start by placing the pastes first in the fridge.
The temperature should be between 4C and 10C, no higher. This will ensure that you are actually allowing the pastes to gradually soften without losing its constitution. Thawing the pastes too fast could result in the water molecules separation, thus leading to a mushy product.
As for the other two types, you will first need to check if there are freezer burns or crystallization. Ideally, the pastes should have an appearance of frozen cream. The surface should still be smooth. If ice crystals have already formed, you will end up with messy wasabi. When that happens, you might as well throw it out.
Crystallization also only happens when you have frozen the pastes for too long or if you have set the temperature too low. This is why you should have paid attention to those details, at the beginning.
Other Methods of Storing Wasabi Paste
Just in case you are interested in other ways you can store wasabi, you can either place it in a cool, dry pantry or directly in the refrigerator. In the case of the tubed variety, it’s fine to just keep it in an area that is dark, dry, and will not be in direct contact with light or heat. However, this only applies to when you have not opened it yet.
If you have already opened the tube paste, you need to place it in the refrigerator. The same goes for the wasabi powder that you turn into paste and the grated wasabi rhizome. You do have to make sure that the latter two are covered tightly, either with airtight containers or with clear film. No matter what, there must be no room for any leaks or for air to get in.
Fresh wasabi can also be placed in a chilled display cabinet in case you want to prepare them a few hours in advance. However, it should not be there for more than four hours. Once it goes past that time limit, it’s best to just throw it away and start again.
What is Wasabi Used For?
Wasabi is used as a flavoring and aromatic pair to soy sauce when eating sushi, as well as a flavoring for a variety of other dishes. It is a favored condiment among the Japanese due to its unique taste, smell, and mouthfeel. It is also used to enhance the fresh taste of fish.
What Can I Use Instead of Wasabi?
If you don’t have wasabi or don’t want to use wasabi, you can combine mustard and grated horseradish. The taste will be significantly milder, but it will work as an alternative to the green condiment. If you want it to look more like wasabi, you can add green food color.
Judging Wasabi Paste Qualities
If you are going to enjoy wasabi as you were meant to, you will need to take a look at its quality, first of all. Basically, you will need to make sure that it actually is the kind of condiment that would complement your sushi and soy sauce. You can start by taking a look at its texture, its smell, its pliability, and finally, its taste.
When you squeeze the paste out of the tube or when you form the wasabi powder into a paste, it should not feel like sand. It should not be grainy or rough. It should be smooth and soft like playdough. This is how you can judge its quality.
After that, there is the smell. The wasabi paste should instantly smell like wasabi. You should not even need to bring it closer to your nose for a sniff since you should already get that odor just as it comes out of the tube. The same goes for when you add water to wasabi powder. In the case of fresh wasabi, this likely won’t even be an issue.
Then there is pliability, which applies to when you form the wasabi paste into various shapes. This should not prove difficult since the paste should be easy to mold. If it’s too wet or too dry, the quality is not good.
Finally, there’s the taste. If you have ever tried good wasabi before, you will know that it will invade your tongue, throat, and nose. This is how you can tell that you have a good product.
Other Uses for Wasabi Paste
Other than for sushi, wasabi is also often used for other raw dishes like sashimi. The Japanese also like to include the paste in some of their other dishes to enhance the flavor and aroma. These are usually dishes that have broths in them like stew or ramen.
You can try experimenting with this condiment yourself if you are interested in what other things it can be used for. There are even those who actually eat wasabi raw or mix it in with their rice. It’s not exactly something that most people can do, but you can try it if you want.
Thanks to the strong flavor of the wasabi, there have even been junk food and chips that were made with it. They are mostly to be found in Japan, though, or in specialty shops that sell foreign goods.