I stumbled upon some articles recently about some sushi chefs preferring to use metal graters (I.e Jiro) instead of the traditional sharkskin grater
Decided to compare the two materials using fresh wasabi from Half Moon Bay as the test subject.
The metal grater produces a notably lighter and airier product. This results in a brighter & more floral flavor profile compared to sharkskin. As for sharkskin the presence of fibers is more pronounced producing a denser mix and slightly muted flavor profile. I think it boils down to the steel grater does a better job severing the wasabi fibers. The differences are not glaringly obvious when tasted naked and required multiple (eye watering) tastings to discern the differences. Honestly I don’t think one can easily tell them apart when used in sushi.
Verdict: Metal grater notches the win in this comparison.
Note: try to find one with a very fine grating surface. I purchased this larger tooth copper version earlier in the year. It’s really requires quite a bit of effort to grate compared to the one above. Also buy the largest surface you can afford, much easier to grate.
I believe the wasabi from half moon bay is the hatake-wasabi (land grown) variety. Considered a lesser varietal compared to sawa- wasabi which is grown in constantly flowing water fields. I frankly haven’t had enough wasabi in my lifetime to be able to discern the difference vs the Japanese sourced product. It’s still light years better than what you find coming out of tubes and $70 buys you two healthy ~ 7” roots. I paid $45 for a 3” Japanese grown root a few months ago and did not look anywhere as fresh as this. So until the regular home consumer has easy access to some primo grade Japanese wasabi, this is quite a good alternative for fresh wasabi.