Rooting for a bit of fire
I have a horseradish plant growing in my garden and want to make horseradish sauce. What part of the plant do I use? How do I make the sauce? How else can I use it?
- Judy Angell
Horseradish is a truly flavoursome and grunty root vegetable. It's the peeled root that you eat minced or grated and usually mixed with vinegar to prevent it discolouring and to preserve the mustardy flavour. The leaves are generally discarded, although were used as a poultice in medieval times. It's related to the wasabi and mustard plants and has the same lovely eye-watering heat that can take your breath away.
The simplest thing to do with it is to peel just as much as you need and finely grate it. Wrap the remainder up in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer for later use. Don't breathe too deeply as you'll feel your eyes are on fire and your throat burning. Mix the grated horseradish with vinegar and store in the fridge or use straight away. When you want some, either mix it into sour cream, mayonnaise or even grain mustard (which produces Tewkesbury mustard) to serve with roast beef, on sandwiches with ham and a firm cheddar-style cheese, or over pan-fried smoked fish with a squeeze of lemon.
It's also lovely mixed into puréed roasted or boiled beetroot (equal quantities of each) to produce chrain - a fiery, but slightly sweet mellow, Yiddish condiment that my grandmother's Jewish neighbour, Mrs Gold, would serve. In fact, until I went to Melbourne aged 18 and saw fresh horseradish root in the Victoria market, I had assumed it was a red vegetable because of Mrs Gold's delicious jars of chrain.
It's also lovely stirred into a meaty stew just before serving it, and then have a little pot of it on the table for guests to help themselves. Stir it into risottos, mashed potatoes or bubble and squeak, add to gravies or salad dressings.
Or simply grate raw over freshly shucked oysters and drizzle with a little fresh lemon juice - which is a favourite way of devouring the critters.
The root freezes pretty well too - so you can literally bring it out and grate what you want, but do try to use it up within eight weeks. If the root looses its pungency, then make sure you add a little vinegar to revive it - but there will, one day, be nothing you can do to extend its life. Sad really.
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