Wasabi is a bit of a mysterious plant. A lot of that mystery comes from the fact that it’s very rare and legendarily hard to cultivate.
But if you’ve ever had real wasabi, then you know it’s a spicy, zingy plant what will make your nose run. Another plant we know that’s similar is horseradish.
When you compare the flavors, they might seem pretty close, which can leave you wondering if wasabi is different from horseradish.
Quick Answer: Is Wasabi Different from Horseradish?
Yes. Wasabi and horseradish both belong to the Brassicaceae family of plants, but they’re still two completely different species.
The Differences Between Wasabi and Horseradish
Aside from the fact that they’re two different species, is there anything else different between wasabi and horseradish? The answer might surprise you a little bit here.
Yes, there are quite a few differences between these two plants. For one thing, the flavor is different.
Horseradish is indeed spicy, but wasabi is even more so. We’ve discussed the taste of real wasabi before in this post, if you’re interested in learning more about its flavor.
Additionally, horseradish is much easier to grow than wasabi. Wasabi is far more delicate, requiring narrowly specific growing conditions to mature. Even then, it takes two or three years to mature to the point where it has the best flavor, unlike horseradish, which matures in one year.
Because of its growing difficulties, you can find horseradish in stores, but you’re not likely to find true wasabi. What you’ll probably find is a combination of horseradish, mustard, starch, and green food coloring masquerading as wasabi.
Which One is Better for You?
In a direct comparison, wasabi is easily the winner in terms of health. There are several reasons why.
The first is that it’s lower in sodium. It also has more vitamin C, calcium, potassium, fiber, and iron in it.
Because of its high concentration of nutrients, eating wasabi is linked to some mind-blowing health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory qualities that may be beneficial to people with conditions like diabetes and cancer.
There are even some studies that show components in wasabi can hinder the growth of certain cancer cells, such as oral or breast cancer cells.
That’s not to say that horseradish isn’t healthy. To a smaller degree, it provides many of the same health benefits that wasabi does. However, wasabi just packs a slightly greater punch when it comes to health (and spiciness).
Wasabi and horseradish may be two completely different plants, but they do have some similarities. On top of a similar flavor profile, they offer similar health benefits.
In other words, don’t feel bad if you’ve got a craving for wasabi and all you have to work with is horseradish. Real wasabi may have that zing you’re looking for, but because it’s so expensive, we sometimes have to make do with substitutes…and horseradish is a decent substitute.