Horseradish

Horseradish

By
Anna Bergenström, Fanny Bergenström
Contains
20 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781742702070
Photographer
Fanny Bergenström

The nice thing about horseradish …

Horseradish is its invigorating and pleasantly fiery heat. Horseradish seems to have fallen into neglect in modern cooking, but is well worth a revival. A horseradish vinaigrette on a winter beetroot salad, or a piece of turbot served with chopped egg, brown butter and freshly grated horseradish are real delicacies. Horseradish is a traditional condiment that is deeply rooted in Scandinavian cuisine. Just a generation or so ago, having a sturdy piece of horseradish in the pantry was a matter of course; its extraordinary piquancy was commonly used to enhance slow-cooked beef casseroles and Baltic herring dishes. But horseradish still has a given place in various cuisines. In Poland, a hearty horseradish and sausage soup is a traditional Easter dish; in England, horseradish sauce is a classic with roast beef; and in Russia, the root is frequently used as a condiment. Long before the arrival of chillies, horseradish and mustard provided the ‘sting’ in many European dishes.

Horseradish is believed to have originated in western Asia. The root has long been used medicinally to cure headaches, gout and rheumatic pains, and as a cough medicine mixed with honey. It has been used as a condiment since medieval times, and grated horseradish in a bottle was one of the first industrial preserves back in the 1860s. The French word for horseradish is raifort, meaning strong root, and in Swedish, horseradish is called pepparrot, or peppery root. Unbroken, the horseradish root is practically odourless, but once grated, its piercing, pungent aroma can really make your eyes water. Luckily, this enzymic reaction is fleeting, and the irritation passes almost immediately. As delicious as it is, freshly grated horseradish can quickly turn bitter when exposed to air. Therefore, always add the horseradish just before serving. And as the intensity can vary greatly from one root to another, it’s best to add just a little, then taste it before adding more.

Hopefully, you’ll find something in the following recipes to spark a renewed interest in this good old-fashioned condiment. Perhaps the creamy potato salad with smoked trout that is so simple to make, or the fresh-tasting green pea soup served with horseradish cream. Or why not the Danish smørrebrød, with roast beef, curry remoulade sauce and lots of freshly grated horseradish on top. Such a delicious, classic treat!

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is a fast-growing perennial, which can spread like wildfire if left untended. Commercial horseradish cultivation is still a manual craft, and horseradish is largely grown as a biennial plant. Pieces of the previous year’s plants are dug up and replanted in the spring, in order to harvest thick roots in the autumn. However, our personal experience of growing horseradish in the garden only resulted in thin, rather dry roots. We definitely need to give it another go…

When using fresh horseradish, try not to let it dry out. Wrap the horseradish in plastic wrap and store it in the vegetable drawer in the fridge. Peel and grate small amounts of horseradish using a grater; larger quantities can be grated in a food processor just before serving.

Japanese wasabi

Fiery green wasabi – the classic accompaniment to sushi and sashimi – is often called Japanese horseradish, and also belongs to the Brassicaceae family (which includes horseradish, mustard and rocket, among others). Wasabi and regular horseradish do resemble each other, both in their flavour and the manner in which they are used. In fact, you will often find that the green substance sold in tubes as wasabi is actually dyed horseradish mixed with oil and mustard powder. Real wasabi, Eutrema wasabi (previously called Wasabia japonica), is expensive and difficult to cultivate. It is grown in running water on hillside terraces in the Japanese mountain areas, but it also grows wild in cool streams, where the water must maintain a temperature of 11-14°C for the wasabi to thrive. In general, only the rhizome is used, but the leaves and stalks can also be cooked or pickled. There are special graters just for wasabi, and one way of grating the precious root is to use dried shark skin. In Japan, wasabi is sold fresh and is used to accompany raw fish, but also to spice up noodles and other dishes. The rest of us can usually only find wasabi in tubes or powder form in our local supermarkets.

Featured Recipes in this Chapter

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