Horseradish genius

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HORSERADISH has an uncanny affinity to alkaline foods – beetroots, carrots, even sweet potato, certainly with curd or fresh goat’s cheese. The exception is of course what it is always paired with roast beef, but if you carve a rib as thinly as my father used to do, then maybe even that can have a role.

The creamed versions in jars are unlikely to be at all alkaline where plain grated may be. Best is to get hold of a root and diy. They are long and thick like cudgels but freeze ok. The real trick is the grating, you want small thin coils not shards, usually the second smallest grid on the grater. It has no smell to speak of, until you grate it and release the potently aromatic oil myrosinase. Only a few grates can bring tears to the eyes. Shakespeare mentions it in Henry IV where Falstaff talks of a “wit as thick as Tewkesbury Mustard” which as slaked with it.

It is related on one side to mustard and wasabi (for which it often substitutes, cue fish dishes) and on the other botanically speaking to cabbage and broccoli. They are harvested after the first frost.

Not only is it of itself alkaline but it is also a first class source of vitamin C containing 73g per 100g.

The traditional sauce is vinegar (acid) and cream or sour cream plus horseradish but the vinegar is really there only to preserve things. American versions substitute mayonnaise for cream.

RIMG0275But plainly grated over baked beetroots is exemplary alkaline, a fresh variation of the red sauce you can kind in kosher delis. You could, on the same theme, make a beetroot soup and garnish it with horseradish.

Or mashed into fresh goat’s cheese or curd as a spread it gives a very different but sympathetic slant. A smattering of sesame seeds equally re-inforces the alkalinity and the idea that this is a seriously interesting new dish, garnish with cress.

But it can also transform a baked potato with a few chopped herbs, curd or cream and a goodly grate.

It also likes hard boiled eggs. In Slovenia it becomes an Easter dish with eggs and sour cream and even a variation with apple.

Considering it can be so widely grown globally, it is rather a mystery why it has been so marginalised. It is invasive in the garden but that is just another reason to dig it up. Oh, and one last thing, no horse’s don’t like it…the myrosinase, you see, gets up their nose. It is the plant’s inbuilt protection system.

PS: I also found this Polish horseradish soup recipe which has quite a lot of good things in it, even if it is a bit old school.

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