Do you want to try Wasabi for the first time and get an idea of how hot it really is? Well, let me tell you one thing.
Those who eat meals with Wasabi do not forget about it because of their strong burning sensations.
To measure the exact heat and spiciness, people use the Scoville scale. But there’s a problem.
Wasabi has no Scoville value or unit as you can’t measure its heat on the Scoville scale. It is because the scale is designed for those ingredients that have Capsaicin. Since this component is not found in Wasabi, it can’t be measured. Still, experts have tried to make an estimation, which is that the Scoville unit of Wasabi is less than 1000 units.
The Scoville scale measures the value in the Scoville Heat Units (or SHUs). Earlier, it was used for chili peppers only, but now the modern ones also cover Jalapenos and habaneros. Still, it can’t measure Wasabi’s heat value.
However, experts have still estimated that Wasabi Scoville unit is similar to anaheim peppers. If the Scoville scale could measure Wasabi, the value would be less than 1000.
Wondering how the Scoville scale works?
The scale measures the Capsaicin in these peppers and gives a value (SHU). As Capsaicin is not present in the Wasabi, the Scoville scale can’t measure its hotness.
Similarly, the spiciness of ginger is caused by Gingerol, so it can’t also be measured on the Scoville scale.
Wondering if there is no capsaicin in the Wasabi, how is it so hot? Then continue reading.
There is a chemical in Wasabi called Allyl Isothiocyanate, which is why Wasabi causes burning sensations.
This chemical causes this effect on anyone who eats Wasabi. To know about this burning impact, you will need to look at Wasabi’s origin.
Wasabi is actually the root of a Wasabia Japonica plant from the same horseradish family. This plant is rare and is mainly found in Japan.
Those who study plant origins believe that the Wasabia Japonica plant evolved the All isothiocyanate chemical to protect itself from predators and eaters.
That is why when you cut the roots to make the paste, the plants release chemicals that can cause burning sensations in the eyes and a runny nose.
So, the burning sensation you feel is, in fact, the defense mechanism of Wasabi.
But you must have noted that Wasabi’s burning sensation is different from what you feel after eating peppers. Why is it? Let’s find out.
Those who try Wasabi paste can easily realize its burning sensation differs from the other heat-causing ingredients.
It is due to:
The biggest reason why Wasabi’s heating sensation is different from Peppers is because of the difference in components. Peppers are spicy because of the presence of Capsaicin. This component is not found in Wasabi.
Allyl Isothiocyanate is the component that makes this Japanese delight hot and spicy. In addition, the component also has an umami flavor, which is not present in the Peppers.
Another major difference between heat sensation caused by Wasabi and peppers is the duration.
Wasabi’s effect is shorter in duration than any other spicy or heat-causing ingredient. It can go away within a few seconds to a few minutes.
The burning sensation caused by Wasabi is felt more in the nose or sinuses than in the throat. That is why you get a runny nose after eating food with it. The burning sensations of peppers are mainly felt on the tongue.
Peppers contain Capsaicin, which is attached to the TRPV1 receptors of the tongue. That is why you feel a burning sensation on the tongue whenever you eat peppers.
But these receptors can’t bind with Allyl Isothiocyanate. This chemical is attached to TRPA1 receptors, which are present in the nose. That is why you feel the burning sensation in the nose (or nasal pathways) whenever you eat Wasabi.
Now you know why there is a difference in spiciness, aroma, taste, and burning sensation when you compare Wasabi with Peppers.
People who can’t handle heat or spice often have a hard time after eating food with Wasabi paste. There are different things they can do to neutralize the spicy or burning effect. Let’s find out what they are.
Although Wasabi’s heat sensation is of short duration, some people still want it to go away quickly.
If you are one of them who don’t like burning sensations, then simply do these things to get rid of it:
- Drink Cold water
- Go for cold Lemonade
- Drink Milk if you are not lactose intolerant
- Eat something sweet
The undesirable effect will go away within seconds.
Let’s now compare the Wasabi burning effect with other peppers.
Those who love to eat spicy foods love to read comparisons between different spices to find out which one they should add during cooking. The three famous peppers that are discussed with Wasabi are;
Habanero is much hotter than Wasabi. It has Scoville measurements of 150,000 and 600,000 SHU. It means that habanero is around 400 times hotter than Wasabi. That is why Spice lovers prefer to add it to cooking meals.
The Scoville value of jalapenos is between 2500 to 7000 on average. So, it is also hotter than Wasabi. But since Wasabi has an umami touch, it is more delicious than jalapenos.
Both Sriracha and Wasabi have a Scoville value of around 1000. So, both have the same effect in terms of heat. However, the heating effect of Sriracha will last longer in the mouth as it contains Capsaicin.
Sometimes, people feel the burning effect of Wasabi for a longer period. Let’s see why.
If you eat anything with wasabi paste and feel the burning sensation for a longer period or on the tongue, then it means you are not served the “authentic” Wasabi.
Be aware of this scam.
Some restaurants serve a paste made of horseradish and mustard and often term it Wasabi. As the such paste is cheaper to make, restaurants have been shifting to this.
Real Wasabi is expensive and hard to get. It is made from the Wasabia Japonica plant, which cannot be grown everywhere. It is sensitive to the climate, which is why it is mainly found in Japan only.
The effect of real Wasabi lasts shorter and is felt on the sinuses only. If you don’t feel like this, then the time has come to talk with the manager.
So, How hot is Wasabi?
Well, you can’t get Wasabi Scoville measurement to know about the heat or burning effect as it does not have Capsaicin in it. Still, experts have tried to estimate its Scoville value, and they predict it to be less than 1000 SHU.
It means that Wasabi is less heat-causing than most peppers. Plus, the burning effect is only on the nose in the sinuses and is short.
So, if you don’t like feeling spicy sensations on your tongue, then you must go for Wasabi.