Wasabi can take two years to reach maturity in the UK. This and the growing market for fresh wasabi in Europe means we are not always able to keep pace with sales from our own farms. In 2017 we turned to the obvious place for the solution, we now have a reliable supply of the highest quality wasabi from Japan to support our UK production.
Our Japanese wasabi is wholly sourced from farms in Shizuoka prefecture, in particular the Amagi area which is renowned for high quality wasabi. Our guides to the best wasabi, and wasabi famers, are Yoshiharu san and his father Takahashi san. Takahashi san has over 50 years’ experience sourcing wasabi from all over Japan for the top restaurants in Tokyo. It was his recommendation that led us to visit several renowned wasabi farmers in Shizuoka.
Many different varieties of wasabi are farmed in the area, some are particular to individual growers. The Isewan typhoon of 1959 flooded Amagi with such devastating effect that all wasabi varieties were washed away. Mazuma wasabi from Wakayama was re-planted and much of the wasabi grown in the area now is derived from this variety.
Most growers of the best wasabi in Japan are small family businesses, this combined with wasabi’s long production cycle of at least 18 months means Yoshiharu san will source our wasabi from various growers throughout the year. This ensures a continuous supply of the highest quality wasabi.
Market prices fluctuate during the year, festival periods combined with a poor weather event can see prices almost double. We do our best to manage these periods by having our own UK grown wasabi available at these times. Balancing supply from UK and Japan we are able to guarantee year-round availability of high quality, fresh wasabi.
English wasabi plants generally yield less wasabi and smaller stem sizes than Japanese wasabi: our conditions are less optimal and we have approximately 10,000 years less experience in growing wasabi!
English wasabi does however hold all of the same flavour characteristics and has been favourably reviewed in taste tests by both Japanese farmers and chefs with many years’ experience of using fresh wasabi every day.
Different production areas, varieties and times of year can all effect the flavour and pungency of wasabi, flowering has a notorious ability to decrease pungency and sweetness as energy is focused on the rapid growth of flowers and their long stems. Your feedback is encouraged and welcomed as we seek to provide you with the very best fresh wasabi experience every day, throughout the year.
Balancing supply from UK and Japan we are able to guarantee year-round availability of high quality, fresh wasabi.
One of our visits took us to Ikadaba, Amagi, an area famous for wasabi cultivation where steep terraces filled with wasabi dominate the valley. Crystal clear spring water flows down from the mountains where it fills the pumice stone wasabi terraces; this water delivers nutrients, minerals and dissolved oxygen that are vital for wasabi plants to thrive. Trees and the steep valley sides provide natural shade from the summer sun.
Jon, one of the founders of The Wasabi Company, with fifth generation wasabi grower Kichiei Shioya. Records of Kichiei san’s family cultivating wasabi for their own use date back to the Edo period (1603-1867). Kichiei san’s grandfather named one of the most famous varieties of wasabi: Daruma.
He has been farming the family wasabi fields in Ikadaba, Amagi since 1975 with his wife and two employees.