Horse Radish: The Benefits and How to Cook it
What is horse radish?
Horse radish is a root vegetable in the same family as mustard and cabbage. It’s a member of the Brassicaceae family, and the Latin name is “Raphanus sativus”. It’s also known as “mahadevshali” in India.
It’s a pungent, spicy condiment and has a strong flavor similar to mustard and horseradish. It’s used in many Asian and European dishes and is a popular ingredient in American barbecue sauce. So let’s get into the details.
In this post we'll cover:
- 1 Discovering the Secrets of Horseradish
- 2 The Roots of Horseradish: A Historical Perspective
- 3 The Origins and Names of Horseradish
- 4 From Plant to Plate: The Cultivation of Horseradish
- 5 What’s the Flavor of Horseradish?
- 6 Cooking With Horseradish: A Flavorful and Versatile Condiment
- 7 Get Creative in the Kitchen: Recipes With Horseradish
- 8 May Offer Health Benefits
- 9 Substitutes for Horseradish
- 10 Conclusion
Discovering the Secrets of Horseradish
Horseradish is a root vegetable that is widely known for its pungent and spicy flavor. It is usually found in two forms: fresh and prepared. The fresh horseradish is a white root that is grated to create a spicy sauce, while the prepared horseradish is a mix of grated horseradish, vinegar, and salt.
Where Did It Come From?
Horseradish is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. It is considered to be a close relative of mustard, wasabi, and ginger. It is widely used in local cuisines, especially in Chinese and Japanese dishes.
What Does It Taste Like?
Horseradish has a strong and spicy flavor that brings a little heat to any dish. It is unlike normal spicy food, as it hits you in a different way. It contains a compound called sinigrin, which, when broken down by an enzyme called myrosinase, creates a hot and pungent taste. It is said to have a flavor profile that is a mix of hot mustard and ginger.
How Can You Use It?
Horseradish is a versatile ingredient that can be used in plenty of dishes. Here are some ways to use horseradish:
- Mix it with mayonnaise to create a spicy sauce for grilled beef or chicken.
- Add a little horseradish to your mashed potatoes or deviled eggs for an extra kick.
- Create a horseradish and apple sauce to serve with pork dishes.
- Add a little horseradish to your salad dressing for an extra zing.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Horseradish is associated with plenty of health benefits, including:
- It is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- It may help with digestion and relieve bloating.
- It contains a compound called glucosinolate, which is said to have cancer-fighting properties.
What Should You Be Careful About?
Horseradish is a strong ingredient, so you should be careful when adding it to your dishes. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Start with a little and add more as you go.
- If you are not a fan of spicy food, you may want to avoid horseradish altogether.
- When cutting fresh horseradish, be careful as it can cause your eyes to water, much like onions.
The Roots of Horseradish: A Historical Perspective
- Horseradish has a long and natural history that dates back centuries.
- The word “horseradish” possibly originated from the German word “meerrettich,” meaning “sea radish.”
- Horseradish is believed to have been cultivated in various parts of the world, including America, Persia, and North Africa.
- The plant was applied both medicinally and culinary to treat various ailments and as a condiment.
Horseradish in America
- Horseradish was introduced to America in the late 1600s and grew wild in central and southern parts of the country.
- The plant was cultivated on farms, with smaller farms producing approximately 1 million pounds of horseradish annually.
- Horseradish was commonly used as a condiment for beef and other meats, and its consumption was equally common in both the North and South.
Horseradish Goes Global
- Horseradish spread to other parts of the world, including Russia and Eastern Europe, where it became a staple in both culinary and medicinal treatment.
- Dioscorides listed horseradish as a treatment for aches and pains in his medical treatises, and Pliny the Elder recommended it as a remedy for digestive issues.
- The herb was also mentioned in Renaissance herbalists’ works, including Pietro Mattioli, who showed that horseradish was linked to the beet and was known as Persicon sinapi gerard.
The Origins and Names of Horseradish
Horseradish is a sauce that is served with a variety of dishes around the world. The word “horseradish” comes from the German “meerrettich,” which means “sea radish.” The “horse” part of the name is said to refer to the size of the root, which is similar in size to a horse’s internal organ.
Common Names: From Barbecue to Chinese
Horseradish is known by a variety of names around the world. Some of the most common include:
- Red cole
- Great raifort
- Mountain radish
- German mustard
- Wasabi (when combined with soy sauce)
- Chinese mustard
- Armoracia rusticana (the scientific name)
Traditional Uses: From Medicine to Marketing
Horseradish has been used for centuries for a variety of purposes. Some of the traditional uses include:
- As a medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems, digestive issues, and even cancer
- As a staple food in many cultures, including Jewish cuisine, where it is served with gefilte fish, and in New England, where it is served with roast beef and bacon
- As a marketing tool, with the biggest horseradish producing state in the US, New Hampshire, celebrating National Horseradish Month in February
Preparation and Cooking: From Fresh to Pickled
Horseradish can be prepared and served in a variety of ways. Some of the most common include:
- Grated fresh and mixed with vinegar, sugar, and salt to make a sauce
- Pickled and served as a condiment with meats and cheeses
- Combined with other ingredients, such as mayonnaise, to make a horseradish sauce
- Used as an essential ingredient in dishes such as horseradish mashed potatoes and horseradish pie
Flavor and Health Benefits: Powerful and Nutritious
Horseradish has a strong, powerful flavor that is similar to mustard or ginger. It contains a compound called sinigrin, which is released when the root is cut or grated. This compound has natural antibiotic properties and may offer health benefits such as:
- Reducing inflammation
- Boosting the immune system
- Lowering blood pressure
- Improving digestion
Substitutes and Combinations: From Onion to Rose
Horseradish can be substituted with a variety of other ingredients, such as:
- Grated onion
- Grated ginger
It can also be combined with other ingredients to create a mixture with a slightly different flavor. Some of the most common combinations include:
- Horseradish and mayonnaise
- Horseradish and sour cream
- Horseradish and barbecue sauce
- Horseradish and rose petals
From Plant to Plate: The Cultivation of Horseradish
Horseradish has been cultivated for centuries and is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe. It was a popular food choice among the ancient Greeks and Romans, who used it as a condiment and medicine. The plant was brought to the United States by European settlers in the 1600s and has been grown here ever since.
Horseradish is a hardy plant that can be grown in a variety of climates. Here are the steps to growing horseradish:
- Choose a sunny spot in your garden with well-drained soil.
- Plant horseradish in the early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked.
- Cut the root into small pieces, leaving at least one bud on each piece.
- Dig a hole about 8 inches deep and place the root pieces in the hole, with the buds facing up.
- Cover the roots with soil, leaving about 1 inch of soil above the root.
- Water the plant well and keep the soil moist.
- Horseradish will grow to be a large plant, so make sure to give it plenty of space in your garden.
Harvesting and Storing Horseradish
Horseradish is typically harvested in the fall, after the first frost. Here’s how to harvest and store horseradish:
- Use a sharp knife to cut the leaves off the plant, leaving about 1 inch of stem.
- Dig up the root of the plant, making sure to remove all of the soil.
- Rinse the root with cold water and peel off the outer layer.
- Cut the root into small pieces and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Horseradish can be stored for several months in the refrigerator.
Uses of Horseradish
Horseradish is a popular condiment and ingredient in many dishes. Here are some ways to use horseradish:
- Mix grated horseradish with sour cream or mayonnaise to make a traditional horseradish sauce.
- Add horseradish to beef dishes for a sharp, spicy flavor.
- Use horseradish as a substitute for sugar in recipes for a low-sugar alternative.
- Combine horseradish with other ingredients to make a variety of sauces and dips.
- Use horseradish as a natural remedy for sinus congestion and other ailments.
Health Benefits of Horseradish
Horseradish contains a compound called allyl isothiocyanate, which is released when the plant is cut or grated. This compound has been shown to have significant health benefits, including:
- Acting as an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever.
- Boosting the immune system.
- Reducing the risk of cancer.
- Lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
There are several varieties of horseradish, each with its own unique flavor and characteristics. Some of the most common varieties include:
- Maliner Kren: A traditional variety originating in Austria.
- Red Shield: A variety with a slightly sweeter taste and reddish color.
- Big Top: A variety with a long, running root and high yield.
- Variegated: A variety with white and green leaves and a milder flavor.
What’s the Flavor of Horseradish?
Horseradish has a prominent sharpness that is direct and brings a unique flavor to dishes. It’s a great addition to meat and seafood dishes, and it’s usually served as a sauce or condiment. The closest substitute for horseradish is wasabi, which is a milder version of the root.
Combining Horseradish with Other Ingredients
Horseradish can be combined with other ingredients to produce a variety of dishes. It’s commonly mixed with vinegar to produce a horseradish sauce, which is a popular condiment in many parts of the world. Adding horseradish to grilled or roasted pork brings a new level of flavor to the dish.
Cooking With Horseradish: A Flavorful and Versatile Condiment
Horseradish is not just a condiment, it’s a flavor bomb that can take your food to the next level. Whether you prefer it freshly grated or prepared in a creamy sauce, horseradish offers a burst of heat and flavor that can enhance any dish. In this section, we’ll explore some of the best ways to cook with horseradish, from traditional recipes to lighter alternatives.
Horseradish as a Topping or Accompaniment
Horseradish can also be used as a topping or accompaniment to add flavor and heat to your favorite dishes. Here are some ideas:
- Horseradish crusted salmon: Mix grated horseradish with breadcrumbs, chopped coriander, and olive oil. Spread the mixture over a salmon fillet and bake for 12-15 minutes. This dish is a centerpiece for any holiday dinner.
- Horseradish mashed potatoes: Add freshly grated horseradish to your mashed potatoes for an extra burst of flavor. This dish is a great alternative to traditional mashed potatoes and goes well with roasted meat or vegetables.
- Gefilte fish with horseradish: This traditional Jewish dish is served with a side of grated horseradish. The heat of the horseradish complements the sweetness of the fish and adds a pleasing aroma to the dish.
Get Creative in the Kitchen: Recipes With Horseradish
Looking for a lighter alternative to traditional cream sauces? Try this incredibly easy recipe that takes only a few minutes to whip up. It serves as a flavorful topping for roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, or even as a condiment for sandwiches. Here’s how to make it:
- Mix 1 cup of crème fraîche with 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish and a handful of chopped fresh tarragon.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir well and serve.
Horseradish-Crusted Salmon Fillet
Looking for a main dish that will be the centerpiece of your holiday dinner? Look no further than this incredibly flavorful salmon recipe. It’s equally easy to make and offers a lighter alternative to heavier holiday fare. Here’s how to make it:
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Season a large salmon fillet with salt, pepper, and chopped coriander.
- Spread a mixture of grated horseradish and mayonnaise over the top of the fillet.
- Roast the salmon for 12-15 minutes, until it’s cooked through.
- Garnish with chopped dill and serve.
Horseradish and Cucumber Salad
Looking for a side dish that’s both refreshing and flavorful? Try this simple salad that’s perfect for summer dinners. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Here’s how to make it:
- Peel and slice a dozen English cucumbers.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish with 1 cup of sour cream and 1 tablespoon of José Andres’ stirred herbs.
- Toss the cucumbers with the sauce and serve.
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Looking for a flavorful twist on classic mashed potatoes? Try this recipe that swaps out traditional ingredients for something a little more exciting. It’s incredibly easy to make and takes only a few minutes to prepare. Here’s how to make it:
- Boil a large pot of salted water and add 4 pounds of peeled and diced potatoes.
- Cook the potatoes until they’re tender, then drain them and return them to the pot.
- Add 1 cup of milk, 4 tablespoons of butter, and 2 tablespoons of grated horseradish to the pot.
- Mash the potatoes until they’re smooth and creamy.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Remember, horseradish doesn’t have to rule your dishes. Get creative and experiment with different recipes to find your perfect match!
May Offer Health Benefits
Research suggests that horseradish may have potential anticancer effects due to its high content of isothiocyanates, compounds known for their ability to fight cancer. Studies have shown that isothiocyanates can help activate enzymes in the body that remove cancer-causing molecules and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, horseradish contains up to 10 times more isothiocyanates than other cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Horseradish has been traditionally used as a natural remedy for bacterial and respiratory infections. Recent studies have found that horseradish extract contains antibacterial compounds that can effectively target and remove bacteria, including those that cause acute respiratory infections. Horseradish also contains a small amount of arsenic, which has been found to have antibacterial effects when attached to certain molecules.
Horseradish may help improve cardiovascular health by promoting the death of certain cells that cause damage to blood vessels. The vegetable contains compounds called glucosinolates, which have been found to inhibit the growth of these cells and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Additionally, horseradish contains antioxidants that can help remove reactive molecules that cause damage to blood vessels and increase blood pressure.
Nutrition and Fitness
Horseradish is a low-calorie food that is naturally free of fat and cholesterol. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. The vegetable may help boost fitness levels by increasing the activity of certain enzymes that promote cellular health and improve the body’s ability to remove toxins. Horseradish may also help activate antioxidants that protect the body from damage caused by reactive molecules.
Substitutes for Horseradish
If you’re looking for a substitute for horseradish, it’s probably because you can’t find it in your local grocery store or you don’t like its sharp flavor. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of alternatives that can add a similar spicy kick to your dishes.
Types of Substitutes
Here are some substitutes for horseradish that you can try:
- Wasabi: This Japanese condiment is made from grated wasabi root and has a similar flavor profile to horseradish. It’s typically served with sushi, but you can also use it in other dishes. Keep in mind that wasabi is much more powerful than horseradish, so you’ll need to use it sparingly.
- Mustard: Mustard is another condiment that has a similar flavor to horseradish. You can use mustard in its regular form or mix it with a little water to create a paste. Dijon mustard is a good choice if you want a slightly more sophisticated flavor.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger has a slightly different flavor profile than horseradish, but it can still add a spicy kick to your dishes. You can peel and grate fresh ginger or use ground ginger if you don’t have fresh ginger on hand.
- Wasabi powder: If you can’t find fresh wasabi, you can use wasabi powder instead. Just mix equal parts powder and water to create a paste.
- Black radish: This type of radish is commonly referred to as “black horseradish” because it has a similar flavor profile to horseradish. It’s a popular ingredient in Chinese and Japanese dishes.
- Hot sauce: There are a number of hot sauce brands available that can add a spicy kick to your dishes. Sriracha, Tabasco, and Frank’s RedHot are all good options.
- Mustard powder: If you don’t have mustard on hand, you can use mustard powder instead. Just mix it with a little water to create a paste.
Which Substitute to Choose?
The best substitute for horseradish depends on the dish you’re making and the flavor profile you’re looking for. Here are some tips to help you pick the right substitute:
- If you want a flavor that’s similar to horseradish, try wasabi, black radish, or mustard.
- If you want a slightly different flavor profile, try ginger or hot sauce.
- If you want a milder flavor, try mixing mustard or wasabi powder with a little water.
- If you want a more powerful flavor, try using wasabi or hot sauce.
How to Use Substitutes
Here are some tips for using substitutes for horseradish:
- Start with a small amount and add more as needed.
- Let the substitute sit for a few minutes before stirring it into your dish to allow the flavor to develop.
- Be aware that some substitutes, like wasabi and hot sauce, can be quite powerful, so use them sparingly.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment with different substitutes to find the one that works best for you. You might be surprised at how versatile some of these substitutes can be!
So there you have it- everything you need to know about horseradish. It’s a great way to add some spice to your life! Plus, it’s good for you, too!
You can use it as a medicine, a food, or a marketing tool, and it’s been around for centuries.
Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.