This Wasabi is Australian grown and hails from Tasmania - most of the yield goes to restaurants in Australia and Japan and in the production of Ashgrove Wild Wasabi Cheese. It's a young industry having only started in late 1990's.
Wasabi is a member of the cabbage family which probably explains why it resembles a Brussels sprout stem. It's an aquatic plant and is traditionally grown along streams. While it can take up to 20 years for the wasabi root to reach full maturity, the leaves can be picked and offer a similar flavouring to the wasabi itself.
Wasabi aids in digestion and has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties - it's also an antioxidant and has high levels of Vitamin C.
This is a living plant and it's stored simply in a glass of water in the fridge.
When you want to use it, just peel away the rough skin from the amount you wish to use and using a very fine grater, grate the wasabi. Unless you are using it immediately, store the grated wasabi under plastic wrap to stop it from losing it's flavour. Heating will also lessen it's impact.
The first thing I noticed when I grated some was the immediate intense "wasabi" scent. I could almost feel it clearing my airways - that's something you just don't get when you open those faux-wasabi tubes (those tubes don't usually contain real wasabi but a blend of horseradish, mustard and green food colouring).
Tasting it proved an eye-opening and sinus awakening experience - so much flavour that you will have to use it judiciously.
The next photo shows you the wasabi in cross section:
Once you've finished grating, just pop it back in the glass of water.
While it's most fitting use would be along side some sashimi grade Tuna or Salmon I've decided to use it as a last minute garnish over some sautéed mushrooms - I say last minute as heat diminishes the wasabi's flavour.
Sautéed Mushrooms with Wasabi
The mushrooms I chose were Shimeji
and Chestnut (similar to Black Poplar or Velvet Pioppini in the US)
Heat a little oil and a knob of butter in a skillet and when the butter has melted and is sizzling add the prepared mushrooms. Sauté over a high heat so that any liquid released by the mushrooms is evaporated rather than remaining in the pan causing the mushrooms to stew. Once they have browned and just softened, remove from the heat.
Season with a little freshly ground salt.
Allow to cool before grating over with a little fresh wasabi - toss the mushrooms to allow the flavour to permeate and serve immediately.