We’ve all seen the green paste that gets dabbed onto the sides of plates in sushi restaurants. The color is bright and vivid, looking almost like clay or play-doh.
When you see a color so lively, it’s normal to wonder if it’s supposed to be that way. Many people wonder if wasabi is dyed green without ever knowing the answer.
Read on to find out more about what wasabi looks like, including its natural color and what’s really in the paste you get at stores and restaurants.
Quick Answer: Is Wasabi Dyed Green?
The answer to the question is a bit confusing, because it’s both yes and no. Real wasabi isn’t dyed green, because its natural color is a light green. It doesn’t need to be dyed.
However, true wasabi is rare because of how expensive it is. For that reason, most of the wasabi you’re getting in grocery stores or restaurants is made from a mixture of substitute ingredients and green food coloring. The coloring is added to dye it green so that it more closely resembles the real thing.
What Does Wasabi Look Like?
Authentic wasabi comes from the rhizome of the wasabi plant, which is also sometimes called Japanese horseradish. It has a unique appearance.
It kind of looks like a green carrot with bumps on the sides. At the top, a little crown of green resembling leaves circles the edges.
If you were to grate it, it would create a bright green paste. This paste is actually what is used for authentic wasabi, although it’s very expensive.
Curious about what real wasabi tastes like? We’ve written about its intense flavor in this post.
What’s Actually in the Wasabi You Get at the Store
As we’ve mentioned throughout this post, genuine wasabi isn’t so common in the United States. It takes tremendous effort to grow, which is leads to its cost being too high for most businesses to reasonably keep in stock.
For that reason, a shelf-stable and affordable wasabi substitute is used. This substitute is usually a mixture of horseradish, mustard seed, and green food dye. Sometimes, however, spinach powder is used to give it that notorious green hue instead.
Read Also: Why is Wasabi so Hard to Grow?
It’s always worth learning just what goes into the foods we eat. This knowledge makes it possible for us to not only understand the history of a food, but to understand what we’re putting into our bodies.
Some have allergies to food dyes, so it’s important for them to know which food dyes are in foods they eat. Real wasabi isn’t dyed green, but the wasabi substitute that’s readily available at grocery stores and restaurants usually does have food coloring in it.