Karashi vs Wasabi : 2 Pungent Condiments that Represent Japan

When it comes to the condiments for traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles “Nihon Soba (日本そば)“, in addition to “Shichimi Togarashi (七味唐辛子)“, I love to add grated Japanese horseradish “Wasabi (わさび)” to the cup of Soba.

Nihon Soba with Wasabi

As for the condiment, I think Wasabi is a normal choice for buckwheat Soba noodles, but some Japanese prefer adding “Karashi (からし)” to the Soba cup especially in Niigata, the prefecture where I live.

Actually, Karashi is an essential condiment for Niigata’s specialty “Hegi Soba (へぎそば)“, and if you have a chance to go to a famous Hegi Soba restaurant in Niigata “Kojimaya (小嶋屋)”, instead of Wasabi, Karashi will come with Hegi Soba noodles.

The Difference between Karashi and Wasabi

By the way, do you know how Karashi is different from Wasabi? For those who don’t know much about these spicy pungent Japanese condiments, today I want to explain the difference between them.

Raw Material 

Japanese horseradish Wasabi

As I wrote above, Wasabi is a green paste made grinding the ground rhizomes of Japanese horseradish, while Karashi usually refers to the yellow paste made from the crushed seeds of Brassica juncea. 

Japanese mustard Karashi

Karashi is very close to Western yellow mustard in appearance and is referred to as Japanese mustard in English.


Both Wasabi and Karashi are spicy pungent condiments, but Wasabi is characterized by its refreshing flavor and smell as well as stimulating the nose when eating.

On the other hand, Karashi is similar in taste to yellow mustard.


Sashimi with Wasabi

Wasabi is famous as a condiment for Sushi and Sashimi. The refreshing green paste can remove the fishy odor.

Other than Sushi and Sashimi, Wasabi is used as a condiment or a seasoning in various Japanese foods including snack foods like these.

Natto with Karashi

Speaking of Karashi, we Japanese usually eat Natto fermented soybeans, Tonkatsu pork cutlet, Oden stewed ingredients and so on with the yellow paste, not Wasabi.

(Reference pages : Wikipedia からし, ワサビ )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I want to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures and trivia.

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