[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Horseradish in Summer Combat

Summer is finally sweltering and heating all of us up now that we're well into July. That warm loveliness that bakes you on the outside is more than likely making you want to cool your insides with cold or raw foods. While this makes sense in general it can also have some detrimental effects if you purely indulge in a diet which consists of raw vegetables (aka. the much heralded salads), ice cream, cold alcohol beverages, and whatever other cold things you can think to ingest. Your digestive tract (especially the stomach) is actually much like a furnace, where all the food arrives to be cooked up some more, digested, and sent on to the rest of your body to use for energy. If you keep shoveling cold foods in there, especially cold and damp foods (ie. the much loved ice cream), you will potentially damage the warmth of your digestion and cause some back up in the system. Not everyone will experience these side effects right away, some are blessed with a hearty digestion, some don't indulge as much in the cold mania in summer, and some need a bit more time before it kicks in. Often what you get is a phlegmy'ness (I know, lovely picture), diarrhea, bloatedness, or just simply, bad digestion. If you are falling into any of these lovely categories, horseradish could help kick start your digestion a bit and knock out some of that phlegm. Horseradish is considered a warming and pungent medicinal in TCM (Chinese Medicine) and is often used to treat lung and stomach disorders, especially as it pertains to phlegm. There are those that cringe at the thought of the ol' horseradish, it's slight bitterness and pungent nature are not for the faint hearted. I happen to love it. It kicks and bites in the right way. A wonderful combo for meats and fish and even a bit in a potato salad if you so dare. I decided to make it from scratch even though the supermarket produce man nay sayed it to me, saying it was "too much prep" (it wasn't). It looks a bit like ginger root and is easy to peel as such. However, after that it is a bit stringier and you do have to battle it out when shredding it. You want to prepare this a day or two in advance so that the horseradish has time to settle into the vinegar/sugar/salt concoction and mellow out. You can then add it to a bit of mayonnaise or whatever sauce you want that you would normally use it for. We ate it with a bit of homemade mayo and on top of a lightly roasted salmon! Deelish. Here's what I did:

fresh horseradish root
white vinegar
sugar (whatever you like to use)

1. peel the horseradish
2. shred into little bits into a bowl
3. add just enough vinegar to cover it, some sugar and salt to taste (beware it will still be in the bitter stages here but it will mellow in the next day or two)

Remember to prep a day in advance! You can store this in a jar for a week or so, though after that it gets a bit pickled and loses a little kick. Some other summer dishes to throw it into: with a dash of lemon and hot sauce on oysters, with a cocktail sauce on shrimp, on any fish with a bit of mayo, on grilled meats, and of course in those blood mary's you are sipping away on in the hot sun! Counteract all the coldness with a bit of kickin' warmth from the lovely horseradish.

If you want to know more about the wonderful world of horseradish and all it's glorious history (and it does have one much like all foods), then you can go here to read about it.


Vikis Kitchen said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and for those lovely comments. I admire your passion on herbs and food as medicine. I am eager to share a lot of natural herbs . I always worry , if my native Indian medicine recipes may fade away with time. please feel free to use any of my medicinal recipes. I am much interested in antioxidants , fat burners (horse gram) and cancer curing herbs like mushroom, pineapple , ginger , green tea etc:)
Thanks for your encouragement dear. You have a wonderful blog. Keep up the good work.
Btw, the horse radish pickle seems so delicious. I use it in sambar (a lentil based gravy).

Anonymous said...

Okay, is it only me or is the horse radish photo highly suggestive of something else??

The Spice Doc said...

Hi Viki - thank you for visiting the blog and I'm happy we can exchange medicinal recipes. Hi anonymous - yes, many people have mentioned it to me already that it is 'highly suggestive' ... unfortunately (or fortunately?) most horseradish seems to have this shape.

Anonymous said...

I guess us vegetarians can now say we are hung like a horse(radish)!