Hope you’re having a great tuesday, everyone, ’cause it’s about to get just a little weirder.
Why? Because today’s hot sauce is one of the craziest yet. One that, as a lover of all things unusual in food, I absolutely could not pass up.
I didn’t find a lot of sauces at Challock Chilli Fest but the few that I did buy were all something special. And I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to unveil this one, in particular.
So, what exactly is it that’s on display today? It’s Karimix’s Teriyaki Wasabi Sauce:
An asian-style spicy sauce unique in its complete and utter lack of chilli.
Click on to find out what does go into it.
Rice vinegar, soy sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt), sugar, water, rapeseed oil, wasabi (horseradish, cornflour, mustard) 6%, teriyaki sauce (water, soybeans, wheat, salt, wine, sugar, vinegar, spices) 6%, mirin (water, fermented rice, maltose), sesame seed oil, spices, salt, stabilisers: xanthan gum & guar gum.
A long list of ingredients with several more nested inside, yet there’s a reason for that.
As the mirin’s “fermented rice” hints, it, the soy sauce and the teriyaki base are all things which have been fermented, prior to inclusion here. Each one has undergone a long process to become more than just the sum of its ingredients, so it makes sense to list each one as an ingredient of its own. Even if you are then legally required to list each one’s ingredients.
But there is one sub-list that I don’t approve of – The one for the wasabi. Wasabi should contain one ingredient and one ingredient only – Real wasabia japonica.
That’s not always possible, of course, since its heat-inducing compounds are highly volatile and often need to be contained in something else for preservation. But the fact that there’s no actual wasabi in this sauce’s wasabi paste, at all, is something of a travesty. An affront to the “wasabi” name.
Yet whether it contains the real root or not is not the only sign of a wasabi hot sauce’s quality. I’m still going to give it a taste and I’m going to keep an open mind, as I do so. It could still make something beautiful out of what it does contain.
The thin and glossy sauce that I get, however, most certainly isn’t the teriyaki that I know. Sweetness is all that it shares with the dark, soy-based Midnight 21 that acted as such a strong example of the genre.
No, this sauce plays up the rich and slightly nutty, light yet savoury qualities of its sesame and rapeseed content, taking the soy beans in a completely different direction and really playing up the earthy twang of its rhizome.
It may not be real wasabia japonica but it’s definitely the highlight of Karimix’s sauce and fans of anything but the fresh root will still recognise it as wasabi. It’s not the same as fresh horseradish in the slightest.
Add to that the silky, emulsified texture of an oil-blended sauce and a
that may be low and short-lived but is higher than any other non-chilli product that I’ve featured and today’s item gets a serious recommendation from me.
Not a recommendation for everyone, mind you, since you really will have to like wasabi and other asian flavours to enjoy it, but it’s a great sauce for those who do.
And, speaking of recommendations, this one came to me with a recommendation for use over chicken, cooked into stir-frys or mixed with more oil for a chinese-style dipping sauce or dressing. All great applications but the first two require a little caveat.
Wasabi, even when its fake, does not survive cooking very well. This is going to make a beautiful marinade and it’s going to cook into rice and noodles – Especially with bamboo shoots – equally impressively but you are going to have to add a little extra, once the heat is off, to get the full experience.
In short, those uses will take just a little bit more know-how than something like dipping spring rolls. Though they will make it worth the effort.
I am a lot more impressed by this sauce than than its ingredients and the lack of any flavour cues on the label had led me to expect. Well done Karimix!