Everybody loves sushi, right? Wrong. Sushi enthusiasts come in a wide spectrum of adventuresomeness. There's the purists who can't be bothered with the maki and hand rolls, choosing the more hardcore sashimi, a.k.a. raw fish as their delight—preferably fish that, if not prepared to exacting detail after years of technical training, can be toxic if not lethal when eaten. Then there's the fair-weather sushi lover, not quite ready to grind molars on the likes of raw octopus and scallops, preferring the safe waters of the ubiquitous California roll—the flagship of friendly sushi. Finally, the true athlete of sushi aficionados, the wasabihead. This is the guy who covets those little pyramid-shaped mounds of green paste that ornament the raw fish. We all have a wasabihead in our circle of friends—you can spot them by the telltale flush face, watering eyes, runny nose and sweat-beaded forehead.
Like anything that packs a piquant punch, a little brings out the flavour, too much and you'll find yourself dousing your tongue with burning tea to put out the fiery vapours working their way up and torching your scalp.
For the uninitiated, wasabi is a Japanese condiment served with sushi. It's made from the root of a plant that is similar to horseradish—often referred to as Japanese horseradish. It is very hot and spicy. When consumed it has the ability to clear your sinuses in seconds flat. Like anything that packs a piquant punch, a little brings out the flavour, too much and you'll find yourself dousing your tongue with burning tea to put out the fiery vapours working their way up and torching your scalp. Those familiar with the Jackass movie will remember the scene in which Steve-o snorts a big line of wasabi through a straw, and then practically has a seizure. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! For the true wasabihead, there really is no such thing as too much wasabi, and there just aren’t enough opportunities to consume this good green goop… which brings us to our munchie of the month—hot wasabi peas.
Wasabi peas are dried green peas covered in wasabi powder. Very crunchy, very hot and very addictive—so be warned! They are the ultimate wasabihead snack food. You can attempt to eat them one at a time but it won’t be long before you are downing handfuls of these spicy little darlings. Pick through a pile of these peas seeking out the really green ones for a true wasabi rush. Take a break when your eyes fill with tears but you’ll be back for more. Sold in the snack section of most Asian grocery stores, now you can get your wasabi fix any time you want. Another warning is in order here: not only are wasabi peas hot, they are pretty damn dry too so better be prepared with a suitable beverage close at hand. Wasabi peas meet bubble tea… Ah, Asian bliss!
Wasabi peas dipped in dark chocolate = Grant my wish, pretty peas!
First appeared in Heads Magazine, Vol.6 Issue 04