After a whole week’s post on horses, i bring you a culinary component that may seem related to horses – the horseradish.
What comes to mind when you hear the word horseradish? Wasabi? Dongchimi? Horseradish sauce? Apparently, horseradish is a root vegetable used more often as a condiment than as an actual vegetable side dish. I personally didn’t know much about this root vegetable until I did a little research for today’s post. I hope you will enjoy this post as much as I did putting it together.
A Little About HorseradishInfo SourceHorseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and cabbages. The plant is probably native to south eastern Europe and western Asia, but is popular around the world today. It grows up to 1.5 metres (five feet) tall and is mainly cultivated for its large white, tapered root.
The intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma. When cut or grated, however, enzymes from the damaged plant cells break down sinigrin (a glucosinolate) to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), which irritates the sinuses and eyes. Once grated, if not used immediately or mixed in vinegar, the root darkens, loses its pungency, and becomes unpleasantly bitter when exposed to air and heat.
History of the Horseradish
What 3,000-year-old plant has been used as an aphrodisiac, a treatment for rheumatism, a bitter herb for Passover seders and a flavorful accompaniment for beef, chicken and seafood? If you guessed horseradish, you’re right. The history of horseradish is intricate and mysterious, but one certainty stands: Horseradish has been prized for its medicinal and gastronomic qualities for centuries.
The Egyptians knew about horseradish as far back as 1500 B.C. Early Greeks used it as a rub for low back pain and an aphrodisiac. Jews still use it during Passover seders as one of the bitter herbs. Some used horseradish syrup as an expectorant cough medicine; others were convinced it cured everything from rheumatism to tuberculosis. Legend has it the Delphic oracle told Apollo, “The radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, the horseradish its weight in gold.”
More recent appreciation of horseradish is believed to have originated in Central Europe, the area also linked to the most widely held theory of how horseradish was named. In German, it’s called “meerrettich” (sea radish) because it grows by the sea. Many believe the English mispronounced the German word “meer” and began calling it “mareradish.” Eventually it became known as horseradish. The word “horse” (as applied in “horseradish”) is believed to denote large size and coarseness. “Radish” comes from the Latin radix meaning root.
Not all radishes are created equal. Some are really hot while others are pretty mild in flavour. In my hometown of Cebu- the radish is called ‘rabanos’ and it can be served as a side dish. Today I share with you a very simple, healthy and delicious Rabanos Salad recipe.
Here is the variety of radish that we get in my hometown of Cebu. (Named after “el rábano”/radish in Spanish).
Carcar, Cebu, Philippines
Preparing the radish: Step 1-peel and slice thinly
Preparing the radish: Step 2- Rub with salt
and squeeze to remove bitter-hot taste
Preparing the radish: Step 3- Rinse with running water.
Drain. Squeeze out excess liquid.
3 rabanos (radish)
4 spring onions
1 small red onion, diced
2 small tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/4 cup vinegar
2 Tablespoon sugar
1 tsp salt
pinch of pepper
juice of 6 calamansi (calamondin)
- Peel and slice radish thinly.
- Rub sliced radish with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and squeeze until juice starts to come out.
- Rinse radish with running water, drain, then squeeze out excess liquid.
- In a salad bowl, mix radish, onions and tomatoes together and set aside.
- Prepare Dressing: In a small bowl, mix all dressing ingredients together. Stir well until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- Pour dressing into bowl with radish salad.
Optional: You may add bird’s eye chilli for a little heat.