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Wasabi company’s Japanese dream

A Dorset company that was the first to successfully grow wasabi in Europe is planning to sell the plant in Japan.

The Wasabi Company in Dorchester traditionally grows watercress, and was looking for something new to grow before striking lucky with the Japanese plant, wasabi.

Manager Jon Old said: “We started looking into it five years ago and it snowballed from there.”

The Wasabi Company first received interest from Takashi Suzuki, a market trader in Japan who has been buying and selling wasabi at Ota market for over 50 years.

Mr Suzuki found the company online and became intrigued when they found out that the Dorset company were growing wasabi in the authentic Japanese style.

Mr Old said: “They sent a representative and we have sent samples to them. We are currently engaged in conversations about the possibilities of supplying English wasabi into the market.”

The Wasabi Company is a British-based company but also has farms across Europe.

The company discovered that the climate in England was perfect for growing wasabi after a visit from a chef to one of their Spanish farms.

Mr Old said: “We are able to grow wasabi on our farm because it grows in much the same way as watercress.

“We were lucky in that we already had a lot of the raw materials set up. The abundant spring water and gravel beds, on the farm are perfect for growing wasabi.”

Soil can be used to grow wasabi but it is less clean and there is a higher risk of disease.  Growing the plant in soil is less authentic and not as respected by chefs who think it should be grown traditionally. The company plan to continue growing it in Britain, having just sent their second batch to Italy.

They currently distribute to most of Europe with the ultimate dream being Japan.  Mr Old said the company will “continue to sell plenty of fresh wasabi”.