Wasabi Nuts, Crunchy, Spicy, and Hot

Wasabi nuts are not a type of nut, in fact both nuts and legumes (peas) are used for this hot and delicious snack. Pop a handful of properly prepared wasabi nuts in your mouth, and you'll probably wish you hadn't. These treats are meant to be eaten one at a time (they actually taste best that way) or 2 or 3 at a time at most.

Just what are you putting in your mouth? Technically it's three types of methylthiohexyl isothiocyanate, having a chemical formula only one knowledgeable in organic chemistry could fathom. For the rest of us, the formula is simply H-O-T!

Once you're told the other name for wasabi, is the Japanese horseradish, the source of the heat begins to make sense. Ground wasabi and wasabi powder are a stable in many Japanese sushi dishes. Japan is the only place you can get fresh wasabi and when ground into a powder the heat soon dissipates. While it is sometimes sold as a powder, usually kept in air-tight containers, the powder is often mixed with water to make a paste, and sold in tubes. If the powder is made into a paste before the heat factor starts to lessen, the potency of the wasabi root will live on in the paste.

While wasabi compares to many hot chili peppers as far as the kick it produces, the affects are usually much more short-lived. Eaten one at a time at a leisurely pace, you can munch on wasabi nuts for a long time without suffering from a feeling of overheating. The combination of the hot spicy wasabi, the crunchiness of the nut or dried legume, and the nutty flavor which is usually not completely masked, makes for a very delicious treat. Although wasabi does not contain capsicum, the active component of chili peppers, it has a similar effect in that once the burning sensation has gone away, you want to eat more.

Making Your Own Wasabi Nuts - If you want to make your own wasabi nuts, it's fairly simple to do. The main thing is to purchase either wasabi powder or paste, powder being best, which may be found in the ethnic food section of the supermarket or most certainly in an Asian market. Almonds are a great choice for wasabi nuts although you can use peanuts or any other nut of choice. The nuts are covered with a coating of egg white with a little water to give a moist surface for the wasabi powder to stick on, and cooked on a baking sheet lined with foil. The nuts are first tossed in a mixture of wasabi powder, cornstarch, and coarse salt (a 2-1-1 ratio). The nuts are baked for 30 minutes at 275 degrees, stirred around, then cooked another 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Once cooked, your homemade wasabi nuts have a shelf life of about a week if kept in an airtight container.

Dried Peas, The Preferred Choice Of Many - Dried whole peas can be used as well, in fact many of the wasabi "nuts" on the market are actually wasabi peas, and sometimes are called just that. If dried peas are used, the cooking time is longer, at a lower temperature, 5 hours at 200 degrees. Some like to bake the peas first, and then put them in the wasabi powder mixture. The long baking time gives the peas the crunchiness that adds so much to the enjoyment of our homemade wasabi "nuts."

Whether you purchase wasabi nuts in the store or make your own, you'll come to understand the saying that is heard in one of the commercial for chips, “bet you can't eat just one”.


 

 


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