Our friend Matt — artist, designer, and carpenter extraordinaire — helps Ted with construction projects from time to time.
One Saturday morning, as they were working on the mega-bookcase that now houses 350 of my cookbooks, I overheard the following snippet of conversation. I don't know who started it, or why.
"What's that Japanese word? You know, for good design, or beauty. It's kind of like wasabi."
"Wasabi??? No, no, that's the spicy stuff for sushi."
"Hmmm. Maybe it's wabi-sabi? Could that be right?"
"Sounds right, but I can never remember which is which."
I'm still giggling. And they didn't even get around to Wasabi, the Jean Reno movie (tag line: Quite possibly the greatest French-Language, English-Subtitled, Japanese Action-Comedy of all time).
Real wasabi, a member of the cabbage family, has a root that's ground into a spice, much like horseradish — which often substitutes in the wasabi served in American (and many Japanese) restaurants.
Horseradish subs in my favorite Gold's Wasabi Sauce, too. This bright green slather isn't the healthiest thing in my pantry (sometimes it's best not to read labels too closely), but it's absolutely delicious. People who fear wasabi — too strange! too spicy! too green! — love this sauce, which contains no wasabi at all. I often use it when making sushi, both as a dip mixed with soy sauce, and as an ingredient inside the maki rolls. It's also a great topping for a cold roast beef sandwich, or mixed with yogurt for a veggie dip. The flavor is mildly hot, with a noticeable kick of ginger, and it's mildly addictive, too.
There are lots of wasabi sauces on the market, and Trader Joe's makes a wasabi mayonnaise that's pretty darned good. You'll find Gold's Wasabi Sauce in the seafood section of your regular grocery store, or online.
Ginger salad dressing
If you use another brand of wasabi sauce that doesn't have ginger, add 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger to this recipe. Serves 8.
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsp + 2 tsp soy sauce
2/3 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1 tsp Gold's Wasabi Sauce (with ginger)
1-1/4 tsp honey
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Place all ingredients in a jar with a screw-top lid, and shake until emulsified.
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