Karashi is Japanese mustard made from crushed brassica juncea seeds and horseradish. Unlike European mustard, it is not vinegar-based and is typically sold as a paste or a powder. It is a common condiment and seasoning in many Japanese dishes, such as tonkatsu, and plays a starring role in the Japanese stew oden. It is also a common ingredient used when pickling vegetables, especially eggplant.
Karashi is sold in a tube in paste form and in a jar in powder form. The tube version is ready to use, but the powder form needs to be mixed with lukewarm water until it forms a paste. When used as a dipping sauce, the paste can be mixed with mayonnaise or miso, known as karashi mayonnaise and karashi su miso, respectively. By itself, it is commonly used as a dip for Japanese fried pork chops, known as tonkatsu. In many Japanese steakhouses, this condiment is used to make a mustard sauce that is full of sautéed shitake mushrooms and is a common topper for grilled or pan-seared steak.
Oden, a Japanese stew made during the winter, is a mix of several whole ingredients, such as eggs, balls of meat and vegetables, which are simmered in a strong stock for several hours. When served, the chopsticks are dipped in a small amount of karashi before the stew ingredients are eaten, adding an entirely new level of flavor to the dish. Oden is typically served in both Japanese homes and as a quick meal at convenience stores, always with a packet of karashi on the side.
This mustard is also used as an accompaniment to natto, a fermented soybean dish. Natto is a common Japanese breakfast dish, especially in schools. Karashi can also be found in several Japanese salad dressings and is used as a seasoning for mushrooms and leeks.
Outside of being a condiment, karashi can also be used to pickle vegetables. This spicy mustard adds a distinctive level of heat to the vegetables and acts as a preservative when mixed with vinegar. Pickled eggplant, known as karashi-nasu in Japan, is a favorite pantry item in Japanese households.
This spicy mustard can be found in almost every store, restaurant and home in Japan, as well as most Japanese grocery stores in other countries. Karashi provides a definite kick to the taste buds and compliments both mild and strongly flavored Japanese dishes. Whether in powder or paste form, this Japanese condiment is a large part of Japanese cuisine.