This is the shima wasabi stem on the right and a small grater on the left also supplied by shima wasabi. The wasabi is the stem and not the root of the plant as some think it is. You grate the wasabi by grinding it in a circular motion on the grater until a paste is formed. Stephen from shima wasabi explained it best to me and this is how I explain the process to our guests. The wasabi needs to ground on this board to release its full flavor and strength similar to how an epoxy glue needs to be mixed together to work, so does the wasabi. You can grate the wasabi on a grater or micro plane but you will not get the full benefit of the wasabi and the taste will be nothing like it should be. The paste when you grind it can vary from a light green to grey in color nothing like the wasabi you get in the tubes on dried in the tins. All this is is horseradish and green food color. And for years that is what most of us have known as wasabi. I discovered shima wasabi in my first week at the lodge when I found a random box of funny looking leaves in the cool room, the first two weeks in a new kitchen are always fun as you can discover some unusual things some good some not. Anyway I asked what these were and what do we use them for and was told that a previous chef had got them in for something and this is what was left. So I tasted some and was very impressed with the flavor and after a bit of digging around in the box I found a packing slip with the contact details for shima wasabi on it so I jumped on my computer and looked them up and read their story and what they were doing and was hooked. So the next day I rang them and introduced myself and made inquiries about using their product on my menus. I had a lunch for about 80 people coming up in a few weeks and wanted to have the wasabi on that menu. so two days prior to the dinner I drove to Perth just outside of Launceston, thankfully in a company car and not on my scooter, and for the first time saw the real deal fresh wasabi growing in Tasmania and if it was not love at first sight then it was love at first taste. Stephen took me on a tour of the growing area and demonstrated how to grind the wasabi correctly and explained what was happening as you ground the wasabi and the taste of the wasabi once you have ground it and it has sat for some time. When you taste the wasabi as soon as it is ground you get a bit of sugar and a bit of heat but after a few minutes it intensifies but at the same deepens and becomes more complex this continues to develop for I think it was about 20 - 30 minutes and then levels off but dissipates after a few hours. So this is why it needs to be ground to order to get maximum benefit from the wasabi. So armed with my first batch of wasabi and a nifty grater back up the mountain I went eager to show off my new found skills. All of my chefs were excited to see this and loved the taste as well and were very surprised by the changes that take place over a few minutes with the ground wasabi. The day of the lunch had arrived and the dish we served was very similar to the salmon plate we have on our menu now. We had 80 plates partially prepared all that was needed was to add the last piece of salmon as this was a cooked piece and the freshly ground wasabi. So there I was 5 minutes out from serving with my trusty new grater ready to go 80 plates all lined up in front of me waiting for the wasabi so away I went grating like a demon with a chef on each side of me to collect the wasabi as the paste formed on the grating board. I realized very quickly that to grate 80 portions of fresh wasabi sounds great but in fact was bloody hard work. So we have enough wasabi for the first 20 plates and here come the waiters time to send the meals out. Time to step the grating up a gear but by this time my arms felt like they were going to fall off so I did what any smart executive chef would do and delegated the rest of the grating to my chefs with the line, I have shown you how it is done so get in there and grind like the wind. We put the last serve of wasabi on the last plate just as the waiter was coming back into the kitchen to collect the last 4 plates, never had any doubt we could do it. When the lunch ended I went out to talk to the guests about the 3 course meal they had and the most popular thing from that lunch was the wasabi everyone loved it and wanted to know the story behind it. So I explained what it was and where it was from and the fact that it is fresh and why it is different to the tube wasabi. The guests were very impressed with the product and wanted to see it so I took a piece of wasabi and my trusty grater out into the restaurant and gave each table a demonstration on how to grind the wasabi and explained the differences in taste that occur over a few minutes. We had this same group in for the next few days for our tastings at the top event and at each dinner someone would want to see the wasabi demonstration again and have a go at grating it themselves. If you would like to try some fresh shima wasabi then just follow the link on this blog. You will see all the products that they have and how to place an order. Each order is packed in a small poly box with cool bricks to keep things cool and fresh and is sent via express post to your door. We get our wasabi 48 hours after we place an order and have never had any problems with freshness or quality. If you do place an order tell them that Simon from Cradle Mountain Lodge put you on to them as it is good for them to know how you have heard about shima wasabi.