Real Wasabi, LLC, founded in January 2005, is a pioneering grower and manufacturer of products derived from authentic Wasabi Japonica,
the nutrition-rich, flavorful and versatile condiment loved throughout Japan and Asia for hundreds of years.
Here's what the media has been saying about Real Wasabi, LLC:
The 54th Annual Fancy Food Show
By Jeremy Caplan
July 21, 2008
Hawking edible oddities like eucalyptus chutney, wasabi rhizomes and blueberry acai gummy pandas, some 2,400 exhibitors gathered at the 54th annual Fancy Food show in New York City in June. Their aim: to sell experimental flavors to the nation's specialty food stores, grocery chains, high-end supermarkets and, eventually, to you. Americans spend nearly $50 billion a year on specialty foods, a market that's grown more than 20% since 2005, boosted by our growing appetite for fancy energy snacks, infused bottled waters and all things organic. Food purveyors have taken notice — specialty products make up just 12% of all retail food sales, but their high prices yield big profits — and 3,500 new specialty food products launched in 2007 alone. To help you separate the wheat from the chaff, TIME scoured 345,000 sq. ft. of the food show's exhibition space and found the 12 most notable gustatory innovations.
The 12 Tastiest New Foods
# 10 - Most Hard-core Root
Brand: Real Wasabi
Product: Wasabi Rhizome
The faux wasabi that American sushi-eaters add to their soy sauce is often composed of horseradish, mustard, food coloring and artificial flavoring. To introduce Americans to the authentic plant, this South Carolina startup is growing and selling wasabi rhizomes, which you can grate or mash into genuine wasabi paste. The company also sells ground wasabi and wasabi-flavored nuts and salad dressings.
Real Wasabi is not just horseradish of a different color
By: Michele Roldan-Shaw
Mountain Living in Western North Carolina
by Aaron Dahlstrom
Keepin' it Real
What often passes for wasabi might be a little green lie
Many Americans who enjoy a little wasabi with their sushi have been fooled. In America, the condiment that has served as a staple of Japanese cusine for centuries has become little more than horseradish and food coloring. Typically referred to as "faux wasabi," this imposter assaults the sinuses and burns longer than authentic wasabi.
Trus wasabi, grown from the Wasabia japonica plant, produces a much milder heat and more complex flavor according to Doug Lambrecht, owner and founder of Real Wasabi, LLC. Lambrecht's company grows the wasabi plant at their farm in Cullowhee, and they create products designed to introduce wasabi to the American palate. "It's a versatile flavor that complements a lot of things," Lambrecht says. " Its a rounder and fuller flavor, and the heat dissipates very quickly, leaving a sweet taste in the back of your mouth."
Growers use every leaf and stem from the wasabi plant, but the most valued portion is known as the rhizome-the thick underground stem. Inside the rhizome are all the rich nutrients that give the plant ist distinctive flavor.
Growing wasabi can be tricky. Because of its love for cold, damp climates, there are few places in North America capable of growing the plant. The best tasting plants, sawa wasabi, thrive in gravel beds flooded with pure spring water. Lambrecht expected the mountains of Western North Carolina could provide ideal conditions for this type of cultivation, and Real Wasabi was born. He and his business partner, Brooks Quinn, traveled to Japan in 2005 to learn the best techniques for growing the plant straight from the source. Back home he "put some plants in the stream and they thrived," he says. Lambrecht and other wasabi farmers who supply his company are only a handful of wasabi growers in North America and the only growers of sawa wasabi in the states.
Certified Organic, Real Wasabi's products include dressings, sauces, powders and wasabi flavored nuts, all of which can be used to create a variety of dishes from wasabi chicken saute' to mashed potatoes.
SOME LIKE IT HOT
July 31, 2006
A Bluffton business is heating up the food market by trumpeting authentic wasabi.
Real Wasabi LLC founding partners Doug Lambrecht and Brooks Quinn are growing and importing the hot and spicy condiment – traditionally used in Japanese cuisine – and processing and marketing it in several products, including salad dressings and finishing sauces. The year-old business just moved from Hilton Head Island to Persimmon Street off Bluffton Parkway.
The partners are on a mission to build a sustainable business, but they’re also obsessive about getting the word out about authentic wasabi.
“Most of the wasabi you get is nothing more than horseradish, mustard and green food coloring,” said Lambrecht, the marketing force behind the business and the co-owner— with his wife Reneé — of a wasabi-growing farm in North Carolina. “Authentic wasabi is a wonderful herb, and more and more research is showing that it is a super-food, that it has medicinal values. “We hope to be successful in the food industry with wasabi, but we also want to educate, to continually update information about wasabi as it becomes available and create a scientific clearinghouse and database,” he said.
CAN YOU SAY OBSESSED?
Lambrecht, a long-time fan of sushi and sashimi (the “real” sushi, or raw fish), met Quinn at a sushi bar. “We both were in our own businesses — he’s a landscape architect and I’m an investment management consultant. We shared an appreciation of sushi and authentic wasabi and saw an opportunity to do something unique.” The pair decided to start the business and launched Real Wasabi, LLC in January 2005.
Real Wasabi products include the powdered wasabi in three container sizes, three wasabi-based dressings and three wasabi-based sauces.
Customers include restaurants, chefs, natural food stores and grocers. Locally, you can find Real Wasabi at Hinoki of Hilton Head, Lowcountry Outfitters in Moss Creek Village and Circle of Health in Sheridan Park.
“Our customer base started as mail order,” Lambrecht said. “Now, we’re getting into stores and chains, including Whole Foods (the nation’s largest natural and organic foods grocer), but we want to manage the pace so that we make sure we can keep up with demand.” He said he’s aware of only one other genuine wasabi manufacturer in the U.S.-Pacific Farms of Florence, Ore.
“We’ve been growing wasabi on our farm in the North Carolina mountains,” Lambrecht said. “Our production is expanding but it’s not nearly enough to keep up with demand, even though our product line is new. Wasabi is challenging and slow growing, so we must import most of what we use.” Once the wasabi is ready for harvesting or imported, the plant’s rhizomes are processed at two “co-packers,” one in North Carolina and the other in Wisconsin, Lambrecht said.
The flexible condiment also peps up meats and salads and makes a zesty grilling baste and dip.Finally, Lambrecht said, the world is sitting up and paying attention to the wonder plant.
The scientific community has jumped on the bandwagon, too. Clemson University has joined forces with North Carolina State University – both are agriculture schools – to establish the first wasabi research project in the United States. Wasabi stands a good chance of being a tobacco-replacement crop, Clemson officials say.
All of Real Wasabi’s wasabi-based products are USDA-certified organic.
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” Quinn said. “Ramping up the business is an exciting process, and it’s great having this much space” on Persimmon Street. “It’s really hard to grasp the limits of this business,” Quinn said. “I think we’re going to appeal to a whole generation that wants genuine, natural food. They’ll like the truth of pure wasabi.”
Wasabi is a member of the cabbage family. Its root is used as a spice and has an extremely strong, pungent flavor. Its heat is akin to that of a hot mustard, producing vapors that excite the sinus cavity, then leave a pleasant sweet taste on the back of the tongue. The best wasabi in the world is grown in clear mountain spring water. “Growing the plant in earth can affect its taste,” Lambrecht said and “sawa” grown wasabi (meaning water-grown) is revered for its fresh, clean taste. “Nearly every part of the plant is used, but the rhizome (a thickened stem that stores nutrients) is most valued.” The plant grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan.
An entrepreneur's quest to change the face of sushi.
By Corey Hajim
December 1, 2005
Doug Lambrecht is on a mission: to convince diners of the benefits of real wasabi. Most sushi restaurants, both in the U.S. and Japan, do not serve the genuine article. That green stuff next to your spicy tuna roll is usually a combination of horseradish, mustard extract, and food coloring. Genuine wasabi is expensive (the plants are hard to cultivate) and tastes sweeter, with less concentrated heat. Lambrecht's company, Real Wasabi, based in Hilton Head, S.C., which he launched with two partners a year ago, aims to spread the green truth
An independent investment advisor, Lambrecht, 54, has always loved wasabi, to the point where he once put a WASABI vanity plate on his green BMW Z3. After tasting the real thing seven years ago, he started researching the plant's putative health benefits. Wasabi has antibacterial qualities (which is why Japanese chefs first paired it with raw fish--to protect diners from microbes if the fish had gone bad), and some holistic health experts claim that it strengthens the immune system, reduces mucus, fights cancer, and detoxifies the liver and digestive system.
Lambrecht launched Real Wasabi in January 2005 with entrepreneur buddy Brooks Quinn, 43, a landscape architect and ex-restaurateur. Real Wasabi imports wasabi plants from Asia, which it then dries, grinds, and blends into a powder. (Lambrecht hopes to grow them on the East Coast someday, and early field tests in the streambeds of his 75-acre farm in Cashiers, N.C., have been somewhat promising.) You reconstitute the powder by adding water and letting the mixture sit for ten minutes. Real Wasabi sells the powder online--$5.95 for half an ounce--along with six wasabi-based salad dressings and sauces. The company is lining up distribution deals with health-food stores and grocers.
A West Coast competitor, Pacific Farms, based in Florence, Ore., has grown wasabi plants and sold wasabi paste since 1997. Ted Wakeman, head of farm operations at Pacific Farms, says he welcomes the new competition: "Anyone selling a real wasabi product is educating the public, and that is good for us."
Lambrecht says he loves working with a product that is authentic and palate-pleasing, but he also sees a business opportunity. "I am an unapologetic capitalist," he says. "I expect to make money."
America Adopts the Asian Pantry
By Nicole Potenza Denis
Once a week growing up, cartons of Lo Mein, Beef with Broccoli and Chow Mein were strewn across our kitchen table on Chinese take-out night. The food always took a back seat to what lay at the bottom of the bags: endless packets of soy sauce. These packets made dinner flavors pop—and the pleasing memory of the bold, strong, exotic salty-bitter flavors they imparted lingered well into dessert.
Unfortunately, that was the only day of the week soy sauce received any attention. It was a condiment sadly overlooked.
Twenty years later, the bold flavors of soy sauce and other authentic Asian condiments that evoke salty, spicy, fishy and citrus flavors, are invading the American pantry. Authentic Asian flavors and condiments are quickly gaining respect and becoming staples in American households, changing the way we eat and cook.
The Real Deal
As Asian flavors become accepted by the masses, some manufacturers feel there is an urgent need to introduce authentic products.
Real Wasabi, LLC based in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is doing just that. “Most people do not know that 95 percent of the wasabi sold in the U.S. is imitation and can be a mixture of horseradish, mustard, corn starch and food coloring,” says Doug Lambrecht, founding partner/CEO, Real Wasabi. Grown in the mountains of both North Carolina and Asia, the subtle and smooth heat from the company’s authentic Wasabia Japonica can be used to flavor dressings or marinades, mixed with jams and cream cheese for sweet and spicy appetizers or to kick up a Bloody Mary.
“Consumers want the real deal,” says Rebecca Schmidt, director of communications, PeaceWorks, LLC. A combination of Indian, Chinese and Thai flavors, the company’s authentic Indonesian Bali Spice line is made by a woman-owned factory in Indonesia. Its garlic chili sauce is the best seller in the line and offers sweet-hot tastes that spice up tofu dishes or add flavor to soups and stews.
Emeril's Notes From the Kitchen
Catcher of the Rhizome
As the entire sushi eating populace knows, wasabi is a condiment traditionally served with raw fish (sushi and sashimi) and noodle (soba) dishes in Japan. The actual ground root-like rhizome flavors many foods in Japanese cuisine and its bright green color adds color contrast, for which Japanese dishes are famous.
Did you know that that green paste you've been spreading on your sushi or swirling in your soy sauce isn't the real deal? Most often, that clump of green is ordinary horseradish with food coloring added. Don't believe it? Check the ingredients on any tube of paste or tin of powder.
Real wasabi is one of the rarest and most difficult vegetables in the world to grow. Traditionally, wasabi is prepared by grating the fresh rhizome against a rough surface - like a ginger grater. Some Japanese Sushi Chefs will only use a sharkskin grater because it is thought that sharkskin gives grated wasabi a smooth, soft and aromatic finish.
Having had the good fortune of eating true Japanese wasabi, I must say the difference is enormous. The real deal has a tangy, citrus-like flavor and the heat that comes has a short, yet powerful finish. It's a beautiful thing and causes the powders to pale in comparison. There is a close second that my favorite sushi chef turned me on to and he swears by it, since getting wasabi from Japan is a no-no.
In the U.S. there are very few places where the climate and growing conditions mimick Japan and that have had success. Wasabi Japonica (the root) is being grown in an area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the weather and conditions are similar to Japan and favorable for growing wasabi root. Real Wasabi, LLC offers authentic powder, dresings, sauces and whole wasabi roots. www.realwasabi.com.
You'll be amazed at the difference in flavor when you revive mashed potatoes with fresh wasabi root and serve them alongside a great seared tuna filet or a hearty, beefy meatloaf.
More noteworthy products
By L. PIERCE CARSON
Register Staff Writer Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Real Wasabi is marketing dried ground wasabi powder (with a wonderful sweet edge), dressings and sauces from its brand new base in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Restaurants, especially sushi bars, can also order the fresh wasabi rhizome from the new firm. This is wasabi without the intense fire that often turns off Western palates. At the moment, their products are only available in Good Earth and Rainbow markets. To learn more or order online, contact the partners at www.realwasabi.com.
Callison Fine Foods from Seattle is making it easier to add flavor to food with the introduction of Seasoned Skewers, made by infusing wood skewers with essential oils and flavors. Just spike your favorite meat, seafood, poultry or veggies and let the skewers infuse the food with flavor for 10 to 15 minutes prior to cooking. Packages of 20 retail for around $8. Recipes and retail outlets can be found at www.seasonedskewers.com.
Victoria Taylor, founder of Victoria Gourmet in Woburn, Mass., wants to make preparing the evening meal a little easier for the home cook. She’s introduced Roasted Garlic Slices in a jar, providing all the flavor without the time-consuming effort of roasting, peeling and chopping garlic. Her Roasted Garlic Slices make popular roasted garlic mashed potatoes an any-day-of-the-week side dish. If you can’t find the jars in local stores, log online at www.vgourmet.com.
Favorite cooking show host, Paula Deen, that fun Georgia peach, has just introduced a whole line of sauces, dressings and marinades through the Peanut Shop of Williamsburg. Ranging from Moppin’ Sauce to Smokey Apple Cinnamon Sauce, from Merlot Wine Steak Sauce to Vidalia Onion Peach Grilling Marinade, the collection retails for somewhere between $8 and $9. Contact www.thepeanutshop.com to locate the nearest retailer.
Steaz Green Tea Soda comes in ginger ale, cola, key lime, grape, lemon dew and more flavors. Microbrewed from Ceylon green tea and flavored with organic ingredients, Steaz sodas retail for $1.59 at Whole Foods.
Nordic Ware is making it easier to bake desserts at home. The Minneapolis firm has added to its cookware line the new Shortcake Baskets Pan and has expanded its cookie cutter line. Nordic Ware has also expanded its line of bundt cake mixes. The White House Lemon Bundt and Pumpkin Apple Spice are the newest cake mix flavors, and also new is the Very Chocolate Sugar Cookie mix. And what’s nice about Nordic Ware — you can find its products in just about any shop that carries premium cookware.
Napa Valley’s A Perfect Pear has added to its line — a new pear-fig jam that’s as good for goat cheese appetizers as it is in baked goods, plus a pear-infused olive oil. A Perfect Pear’s products can be found in many area markets, or call 257-6830 to find the closest retailer to you.