Horseradish that made my husband whinny
This entry is only my third, but it has, so far, taken the blue ribbon as far as my husband is concerned. Little does he know I very nearly poisoned him.
When I entered my beloved discount grocery store to find an experimental food to cook this week, I picked up a giant, gnarly root, and thought, “Okay, giddy up.” I really did think that, so I had to write it even though doing so makes three horse references in almost as many sentences, so you’ll have to forgive me. Here is a picture of what it looked like:
But this is where I ran into a problem that may end up being a persistent one through my adventurous cooking exploits. The root was labelled with the following sign:
When I brought the smelly thing to the cashier, she held it and looked at me with a look of boredom, saying, “horseradish?” I had hoped she was wrong, because I thought that horseradish was far too normal for my experiment. I pulled out my phone and showed her the sign it had been labelled with, but she said that no, she thought it was actually horseradish because taro was white. I shrugged and told her sure, silently vowing to go home and look up photos because maybe she was wrong, although I’m sure that that cashiers at those places are so well informed that they should actually be allowed to go straight into a Master’s in Botany without an undergrad degree.
Anyway, I’ve returned to the store once since I picked the thing up, and have noticed that many mysterious foods seem to be missing labels or are piled up alongside one another so that it can be difficult to tell what you’re actually buying if you don’t know what you’re doing. Wish me luck in future. The second time I went back the taro sign had moved (this was actually when I took the photo above, having deleted the first one when I found out it probably wasn’t taro) and the roots looked more round, which made me think that the cashier had been right, as if there was any doubt.
When I got home I googled taro and saw that the roots did indeed look more round than mine. It also said that if you didn’t soak taro roots overnight before eating them, and if you ate them raw, they were toxic. Let’s hope the cashier really did know what she was doing, because if my mystery veggie was horseradish I wouldn’t be soaking it and would be eating it raw. Oh well, my husband would be the only one eating it anyway.
Now although I was disappointed that I had inadvertently picked up horseradish for several reasons – it’s a boring, well-known food, and also as mentioned I’m not a fan, preferring to enjoy my expensive cuts of beef straight up – my husband was overjoyed, because although he’s mostly indifferent to what he’s eating, he really enjoys horseradish that burns your tastebuds off and melts the hair out of your nose. He sometimes pays for an expensive dinner at his favourite cheesy steakhouse, “La Castille,” in Mississauga, specifically for this privilege. So I made horseradish from scratch for the first time using the information on this page, which took less than five minutes, and I made him the happiest guy ever. Plus, making horseradish was really cool.
The reason why making horseradish is cool is because you have complete control over the results by manipulating a three-minute window of time. I’ll explain. When you cut or crush it, damaging the cells of the plant, enzymes go to work in a chemical reaction releasing mustard oil. The root immediately goes from an unassuming tuber to a stinky, eye watering concoction when you mince the peeled, cubed root in your food processor, as I did. If you don’t add vinegar within a short period of time to stop the reaction, the root darkens, becomes bitter, and loses pungency. If you add vinegar immediately after processing (2-3Tbsp per cup) the horseradish is fairly mild, but if you let it sit for 3 minutes or so, the horseradish gets progressively hotter, which is the way my husband likes it. The whole thing takes very little work to get exactly the results you want, which is rare in food prep, if you ask me.
My husband loved the horseradish. He slathered it all over his steak and coughed a few times until he nearly choked, but apparently that was a good thing. He excitedly said things like, “we could bottle the rest, horseradish keeps forever!” which isn’t true, one website said a few weeks in the fridge, but I liked his enthusiasm. He did jump up from his chair and put away the rest of what was in the food processor, overjoyed when he remembered he has a boys’ weekend in only a few days and my horseradish might be that certain something that would give their prime rib night legendary status.
I’ll make it again and again.
Rating: 3.5 Yums (if you’re a fan of horseradish)
PS – I started out by looking for a more interesting recipe incorporating horseradish on epicurious.com, but was surprised to find that almost all recipes suggested using prepared horseradish as an ingredient rather than making it from scratch. Pourquoi?