The horseradish we use in cooking is actually the root of the horseradish plant. It resembles the parsnip and is fiery and sharp in flavour. Horseradish has been a popular accompaniment to dishes for years. Apollo apparently said: “The radish is worth its weight in lead; the black radish in silver–but the horseradish in gold!” Horseradish is indeed a fantastic herb to use in cooking, and can be grated and mixed with cream to make a cold horseradish sauce or on its own to make a hot horseradish sauce. Horseradish also makes a fantastic accompaniment to tomatoes and makes a perfect fiery addition to a Bloody Mary or tomato pizza base.
Horseradish was first noted by John Gerard in his 1597 Herbal (journal of medicinal uses for herbs) where he cited horseradish as herb favoured by the Germans, who used it as a condiment to be eaten with fish and meat. What’s more, the Germans and Dutch also ate the leaves as a vegetable and the whole plant was also used for medicinally purposes, such as a poultice and cure or prevention for scurvy.
Horseradish is native to Russia and Finland but now happily grows in Europe and the United States. It is a vigorous plant and will quickly take over other plants in your garden if you do not harvest the root every year.
Using Horseradish in Cooking
Horseradish has a pungent scent and sharp bite. Freshly grated horseradish is a traditional condiment to hot and cold meats, tomatoes and oysters. It also makes a great fiery addition to dips, sour cream and sauces. Horseradish works well with potatoes (try horseradish sauce in your mashed potato or added to butter and used to top freshly boiled new potatoes), smoked fish or even with tomato juice.
You should protect your eyes when grating the root as it can sting them. It is also important not to inhale the fumes as they can irritate the throat.
Recipe Ideas for Horseradish
Try adding prepared horseradish sauce to the following dishes:
- As a topping for vegetables instead of butter
- Cold beef and ham
- Marinades for fish and spare ribs
- Mashed and baked potato
- Potato salad
- Soups and stews for a zing, including beef stroganoff
Add freshly grated horseradish to the flowing dishes:
- Baked beans
- Butter, to use as a topping for corn on the cob, beans, peas and new potatoes
- Cream to make a delicious cold horseradish sauce
- Mashed avocado for a tasty crudités dip
- Mayonnaise, cream cheese and sour cream to make a dip for crudités and barbecue foods
- Meat and vegetable stocks to be added to gravies and soups
- Salad dressing
- Scrambled eggs
- Tomato juice or a Bloody Mary for an added kick
- To tomato puree before adding to pasta dishes and even pizza bases
Horseradish is a great herb to use in the kitchen. It has a great kick, and will liven up dishes ranging from hot and cold meats to potato and egg dishes and even tomato soups and juices. Horseradish is an exciting herb to use, why not experiment and see how many uses you can find for it?