Sharkskin Wasabi Grater: The Professional Chefs’ Tool for Fresh Wasabi Paste
Japanese cuisine is full of tasty condiments, and wasabi is definitely one of the unique ones.
To make fresh Wasabi paste, chefs grate the pricey Wasabi root and use it to make the spicy paste that accompanies sushi and sashimi.
But what tool is required to grate Wasabi?
A sharkskin wasabi grater (Oroshi) is a specialized kitchen tool used specifically to grate wasabi. As its name implies, this type of grater features a surface made of shark skin, which offers superior durability and an ideal texture for quickly breaking down the root into fine particles.
This guide will explain why Japanese chefs use a small grater with a sharkskin surface, how this tool is used, and why it’s still the best way to grate foods like Wasabi.
In this post we'll cover:
What is a Wasabi grater?
A sharkskin wasabi grater is a specialty kitchen tool designed to grate the notoriously difficult-to-grate wasabi rhizome.
It is really made of Japanese sharkskin!
The traditional tool for this purpose is called an oroshi, made from sharkskin and has been used in Japan for centuries.
This original sharkskin oroshi is not to be confused with another Japanese grater called oroshigane which is made of copper or stainless steel.
That’s usually used to grate other roots like radish, whereas oroshi is used exclusively for grating the wasabi plant.
A sharkskin grater looks like a flat paddle with small teeth or bumps carved into the surface.
It is like a large paintbrush with a wooden handle. As you move the grater over the wasabi, it shaves off paper-thin slices of the rhizome.
For an example, have a look at the sharkskin grater of Chojiro that creates a smooth wasabi paste and is easy to use.
The sharkskin has a white, slightly gritty surface that is ideal for grating wasabi without damaging it.
It’s best described as a sandpaper texture, but it feels more natural to the touch.
Sharkskin also has antimicrobial properties, which helps keep the wasabi fresher for longer periods of time.
It also prevents the wasabi from oxidizing quickly and prevents nasty bacteria that causes food poisoning from forming.
Because its fine, sandpaper-like surface protects the fresh root’s delicate texture and flavor, sharkskin is the traditional material for grating wasabi.
It’s important to note that when grating wasabi on a metallic grater, it will oxidize quickly, and the fibers tend to tear.
A sharkskin grater does not allow the wasabi to oxidize, so you end up with the freshest wasabi paste.
A grater brush is then used to remove the grated wasabi from the grater after peeling the wasabi root and grating it in a circular motion with firm pressure.
Sharkskin wasabi graters are ideal for preparing fresh, high-quality wasabi for sushi and other dishes.
Its unique design allows users to get perfect, paper-thin slices of wasabi that are great for garnishing dishes or adding flavor to sauces.
Sharkskin wasabi graters come in a variety of sizes and styles, from handheld models to larger tabletop versions.
Some even feature an extra-long handle for easier grating.
No matter which style you choose, a sharkskin wasabi grater is an essential tool for any chef who wants to create the perfect sushi dish.
Additionally, many chefs prefer to use a sharkskin wasabi grater because it is much gentler on the wasabi than metal graters and will not damage the delicate flavor of the wasabi.
This makes it great for chefs who want to create high-quality dishes without compromising on taste or texture.
Check out this chef showing us how to grate the Wasabi stem on a traditional Oroshi sharkskin grater:
What is a sharkskin grater made of?
The Japanese sharkskin grater is constructed from magnolia wood, a material that is frequently used to make kitchen utensils (such as knife handles).
Premium sharkskin is glued to the surface using a glue that has been certified by the Food Sanitation Act.
Sharkskin is an unusual material for a grater, but it has been used for centuries due to its unique texture and its antibacterial properties.
The texture of the sharkskin is ideal for grating wasabi as it won’t damage or crush the rhizome, allowing you to achieve perfect, paper-thin slices every time.
Sharkskin wasabi graters are made out of the skin of sharks.
This animal’s skin is not usually used in culinary tools but is highly effective for grating wasabi due to its texture.
The sharpness of the skin allows it to scrape off the paper-thin slices of wasabi easily.
Additionally, its antibacterial properties help to keep the wasabi fresh for longer periods of time.
What is the history of the sharkskin wasabi grater?
For centuries, Japanese chefs have been using the same tool to make their famous wasabi: the sharkskin grater.
It’s no wonder why this traditional cooking tool is still being used today – it’s considered the best way to get that perfect, creamy texture.
But this tool actually has a long history. It is believed that the Japanese have been using it for centuries to grate wasabi, a root used for flavoring.
In Japan, it is known as an Oroshi, and its use dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868).
Back then, sharkskin was the preferred material for grating wasabi because it does not damage or crush the rhizome like metal graters do.
Also, there were plenty of sharks swimming in the waters around Japan back then, so it was a readily available material.
All parts of the shark were used, and the idea was to waste as little as possible.
The reason the tool was made of sharkskin is that the skin is naturally very tough and durable.
It was also resistant to bacteria, which was important as wasabi spoils quickly and must be used quickly.
The story of the sharkskin grater is a tale of culinary innovation and accidental discovery.
It all began when carpenters used a particular processing technique on wooden surfaces.
This gave tradesmen and cooks the idea to make a shark skin grater as a tool to grate fresh wasabi roots.
Since they didn’t have the adhesives we have today, tacks were used to tan a shark’s skin on a big board.
This grater has been a staple of traditional sushi chefs for centuries.
It’s the only tool that can achieve the fine texture needed to bring out the full flavor and optimal texture of wasabi.
Oroshi sharkskin grater vs oroshigane copper grater: what’s the difference?
Sharkskin graters and oroshigane graters are two different types of graters used in Japanese cuisine.
Sharkskin graters are made of sharkskin, while oroshigane graters are made of metal.
The main difference between the two is the texture of the grated food.
Sharkskin graters produce a finer, more delicate texture than oroshigane graters, which produce a coarser texture.
Sharkskin graters are also more expensive than oroshigane graters.
If you’re looking for a grater that’ll give you a finer texture, go for a sharkskin grater.
But if you’re looking for something more affordable and don’t mind a coarser texture, an oroshigane grater is the way to go.
So if you’re a fan of Japanese cuisine, you’ve got two great options to choose from.
Oroshi sharkskin graters are widely considered to be the best tool for grating wasabi.
This is because they provide the right pressure to get the perfect, paper-thin slices without damaging or crushing the rhizome.
Additionally, the sharkskin is naturally resistant to bacteria, which helps keep the wasabi fresher for longer periods of time.
On the other hand, oroshigane copper graters are also a good tool for grating wasabi.
The copper is able to hold its sharpness longer, and the surface is slightly rougher, but the oroshigane is generally used for grating other ingredients like daikon radish and ginger.
Now the main difference is the material.
Shapewise, these two graters are similar, but the sharkskin is more suited for grating wasabi and other delicate ingredients.
The roughness of the copper might damage the wasabi, so it is better to opt for the sharkskin grater if you want the perfect, paper-thin slices.
The texture of sharkskin is very different from that of metal. It is softer and gentler, making it great for grating even delicate ingredients.
How to use a sharkskin grater
Shark skin graters are designed to be ambidextrous, meaning they can be used by both left and right-handed people.
They measure 108mm in width and look like something out of a Jaws movie!
A sharkskin grater looks like a small, rectangular block of wood with a sharkskin-textured surface.
It’s about 5 1/8″ x 3 3/8″ x 5/8″ in size, so it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
To use it, you’ll need to peel the wasabi root and then grate it in a circular motion using firm pressure.
Grating wasabi with a shark skin grater is easy! Here’s a step-by-step guide to get you started:
- Place the wasabi on a flat surface and position the grater over it.
- Gently press down on the grater and move it in a circular motion.
- Continue grating until you have the desired consistency.
- Once you’ve grated it, use a grater brush to scrape off the wasabi.
- Enjoy your freshly grated wasabi!
Unlike traditional Western box graters, you have to grate using a circular motion with the Wasabi grater, not an up-and-down motion.
It’s a quick and easy way to get freshly grated wasabi for your homemade sushi!
Making sushi yourself? I’ve reviewed the best & most user-friendly sushi making kits here
Why do they use sharkskin for Wasabi?
Sharkskin is the secret weapon of traditional sushi chefs when it comes to grating wasabi.
The rough, sandpaper-like texture of the skin preserves the delicate texture and flavor of the fresh root, making it the perfect tool for the job.
Plus, it’s been used for centuries, so it must be doing something right!
The reason why sharkskin is so great for grating wasabi is that it produces a finer texture than any other grater.
This means that the wasabi is closer to mashed potato than the paste-like fake stuff, and the flavor is much more intense.
Plus, you have to eat it fresh within fifteen minutes of grating, or else the flavor will be gone.
So if you’re looking to get the most out of your wasabi, it’s best to go with the traditional route and use a sharkskin grater.
The traditional Japanese sharkskin grater, known as an Oroshi, is a unique and effective tool for grating wasabi.
Its texture and antibacterial properties make it perfect for getting the paper-thin slices needed for the best wasabi experience.
Oroshi sharkskin graters are the preferred tool compared to oroshigane copper graters, as the copper’s rough surface might damage and crush the wasabi.
Most high-end Japanese sushi restaurants will likely use the sharkskin grater due to its unique texture and effectiveness.
Therefore, if you are looking for the perfect wasabi experience, an Oroshi sharkskin grater is the way to go!
Now that you have amazing freshly ground wasabi, you must try this powerful Wasabi Sushi Sauce Recipe!
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.