horseradish

With a fervent punch of flavor and piquancy that will clear your sinuses, horseradish has been cultivated since antiquity and today is used in cooking all over the world. Usually relegated to shrimp cocktail sauce alongside ketchup, or in a creamy steak topper, horseradish has a unique kick that can enhance many dishes.

Packed with vitamin C, horseradish also contains mustard oil, which has antibacterial properties. Related to cabbage and broccoli, the plant can grow up to five feet tall and was used throughout history as both medicine and condiment. It’s also kin to green Japanese wasabi, however true wasabi plants are so rare today that most “wasabi” you eat is actually made with horseradish root. And despite its name, horseradish is poisonous to horses.

Ready to give horseradish a whirl? Try this woody root and add some zest to your kitchen routine.

1. Shopping: Look for horseradish roots that are very hard and don’t have any soft spots or sprouts. Wipe any visible dirt off but do not wash your root. Store your horseradish in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp towel; it should last a few weeks this way.

2. Preparation: The outer layer of the root will need to be removed, but only from the part of the root that you intend to cook with immediately. With a paring knife, pull away the outer layer – the greener your root is, the more paring it will require. The portion you need to remove will be fairly obvious. Now, you can shred the root with a sharp metal grater or in a food processor.

3. Freezing: Horseradish is stout, and you might not be able to use it up in one setting. Luckily, it freezes very well. Simply wrap your root airtight in foil or plastic freezer wrap, then unthaw and grate the portion that you need before returning it to the freezer.

4. Eating: While most people prefer horseradish prepared into a sauce, many enjoy grating a sprinkling of the fresh root directly onto their meals: breakfast eggs, sandwiches and salads. The trick is to grate the root immediately before consuming; otherwise the flakes become dark and bitter.

Although it is not common, you can also eat the leaves of the horseradish root, which make a unique addition to your rotation of healthy leafy greens. Try horseradish greens in a salad or lightly sautéed with onions and walnuts.

Because horseradish turns brown shortly after cutting, the most popular preparation method combines the root with vinegar and other elements for preservation purposes. Whip up the following recipe for fresh horseradish sauce, and go wild trying it with your favorite dishes. Horseradish pairs best with red meats, fish, potatoes and pork.

Horseradish Sauce

makes 1 cup

Ingredients

¼ pound fresh horseradish root
½ cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon canola oil
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

1. Peel your horseradish root and cut into small cubes about ½” wide.

2. Combine your horseradish, ¼ cup vinegar and 1 teaspoon canola oil into a food processor with metal blade.

3. Blend until desired consistency, adding more horseradish to thicken or more vinegar to thin.

4. Once you are happy with the texture, stir in the sugar and salt.

5. Store your horseradish in an airtight jar. It will keep for weeks this way in the refrigerator, but will taste best the first day. When it begins to darken, you’ll know that the flavor is dissipating.

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