On a recent visit to a health food store I discovered Wasabi sorbet. The experience that followed was that of both a burning and freezing sensation.
For those not familiar, wasabi is a Japanese root similar to the horseradish. Within seconds of consumption you are greeted by an intense, but short, flaming hot sensation in your mouth and nasal passage.
Here’s the biochemistry. A fast acting chemical inside wasabi called allyl isothiocyanate activates a receptor in the mouth and nose called TRPA1 (read as trip-a-one). Now the main purpose of this receptor isn’t to hang around and wait for you to eat wasabi. It’s actually a pain receptor that gives off a burning sensation. So normally when you hurt yourself, one of the multiple receptors that activates is TRPA1
Eating wasabi results in allyl isothiocyanate molecules tricking the receptors in your mouth and nose into thinking that they’re hurt, when you are of course fine.
But there’s something else going on here with wasabi sorbet, it’s ice cold. Another receptor in the mouth, TRPM8 (read as trip-m-eight) is also being activated. This protein detects cold temperatures, especially during the consumption of sweetened ice-based desserts.
Thanks to two receptors, a pain/heat receptor known as TRPA1 and cold receptor known as TRMP8, wasabi sorbet is therefore the perfect way of experiencing the rare sensation of being freezing hot.
If you’re interested in trying this, then how about this simple recipe:
- 30 grams wasabi powder
- 200 grams sugar
- 200 grams water
- Juice of two squeezed lemons
- Apple juice
- Boil the water and sugar to make a syrup. Let it cool.
- Add the wasabi powder, followed by the lemon juice.
- Now comes the tricky bit. Depending on the strength of the wasabi mix in the apple juice to taste.
- Sieve and then let an ice cream maker do the rest.
Let me know what you think in the comments section.