Karashi vs. Wasabi: Pungent Japanese Condiments
When it comes to the condiment for traditional Japanese buckwheat noodles, Soba or Nihon Soba, in addition to Shichimi Togarashi, I love to add grated Japanese horseradish Wasabi (わさび) to the cup of Soba.
Regarding the condiment for Nihon Soba, I think Wasabi is a regular choice. But some people, especially those living in Niigata Prefecture, prefer adding Karashi (からし) to the soba cup.
Karashi is an essential condiment for Niigata’s specialty, Hegi Soba; If you have a chance to dine at the famous Hegi Soba restaurant Kojimaya (小嶋屋), Karashi will come, in place of Wasabi, with their Hegi Soba noodles.
Karashi vs. Wasabi
But in the first place, do you know how Karashi differs from Wasabi? For those who don’t know much about these traditional Japanese condiments, this article will give an overview for comparison.
As I mentioned above, Wasabi is generally a green paste prepared by grinding the roots of Japanese horseradish. Meanwhile, Karashi usually refers to the yellow mustard made from the crushed seeds of brassica juncea.
As you can see in the picture, Karashi is very much like Western yellow mustard in appearance, often referred to as Japanese mustard in English-speaking countries.
In terms of taste, Karashi and Wasabi are both pungent. In addition to stimulating your nose when eating, Wasabi features a refreshing taste and smell.
On the other hand, Karashi tastes like Western yellow mustard but is usually more intense in spiciness and aroma.
As for usage, Wasabi can remove the fishy smell and is well-known as a condiment/garnish for Sushi and Sashimi. In addition to being used for such raw fish dishes, Wasabi serves as a flavoring for snacks in Japan, including these.
On the other hand, we Japanese eat foods such as Natto fermented soybeans, Tonkatsu pork cutlet, and Oden hot pot, typically with Karashi mustard.