“Horseradish was made into strong fromentations for both man and beast. Anyone who has wept copiously as they scraped horseradish, will realise its use as cure for ‘rhumes in the head’, common colds, or neuralgia. Its medical use as an embrocation has continued”
-Dorothy Hartley, Food in England
And, Hartley goes on to explain, horseradish had additional medicinal properties. It was grown in large quantities around medieval landing stages and inns where the juice was made into a hot cordial ‘for cold and seasick man and beast’. In Neris and India’s Idiot-proof Diet (by India Knight and Neris Thomas) we also find them commenting intriguingly “horseradish seems to speed up weight loss for some people. We don’t know why”.
Like ginger, you can keep a root in the freezer and simply grate whenever you have need of it.
What to do with horseradish:
Of course it’s famous for going well with beef, but it’s also excellent with smoked salmon, smoked eel, and smoked trout…. anything smoked… smoked bacon and smoked cheese. It goes well in smoked mackerel pâté.
You can mix the cream of horseradish sauce (below) with Gruyère and Parmesan, put it on toast, grill briefly, and sprinkle with Spanish sweet smoked paprika.
It also marries well with the sweetness of a tomato.
Alternatively you can mix cream of horseradish (see below) with a little mashed, stewed apple or pear and serve with pork scratchings as in the Polish restaurant, Ognisko.
All of these foods are robust, able to stand up to the hot, bitter, in-your-face horseradish. But that’s not the only way to use horseradish. As Niki Segnit observes,
“horseradish is a bruiser with a gentler side”
It’s good, she adds, in small doses with uncooked seafood – it’s strong and fresh enough to take the extreme ‘fishiness’ out of it and it does the same with the earthiness of potato and beetroot.
For this reason it’s good added to mashed potatoes (possibly used to top a beefy cottage pie); dropped into a pea soup; or mixed in with macaroni cheese.
If you make the creamed sauce below, you can make a wonderful potato salad by adding it to waxy potatoes, a little honey, spring onions and capers. Or add it to the potato salad with smoked salmon recipe here. It’s also great in dumplings.
Segnit also says that “most wasabi served in Western restaurants isn’t wasabi at all but horseradish dyed green”. However, now that we are starting to grow wasabi in the UK this may change. The two plants are, in any case, related.
how to make horseradish vodka:
You can also make horseradish vodka, which has a certain kick! In a clean glass container pour 750 ml of vodka. Put about six 2 cm/½” slices of peeled horseradish into the vodka, cover with clingfilm or a stopper and leave for about three weeks. Strain into a decanter. It will lose its knock-you-back flavour over time.
Recipe for cream of horseradish sauce:
- ½ cup thick greek yoghurt
- 2 teasp hot horseradish (either bought, or scrape off a root you keep in the fridge)
- 1 tbsp double cream
- 1 teasp mustard, grainy
- for a bit of extra kick you can add wasabi… carefully…taste all the time
- or you can try Hotel Chocolat’s yin and yang approach (see bottom image below) and add a little white chocolate to produce – “feisty grated horseradish balanced with sweet hints of creamy white chocolate”
mix all together….. ta da!