What is horseradish?
The horseradish plant originated in southeastern Europe and western Asia, but is now grown in other parts of Europe and the U.S. Although its green leaves are sometimes used in salads, it is grown mainly for the sinus-clearing properties of its pungent root, which resembles a long, white, oversized carrot.
Fresh horseradish has little smell, but once peeled and grated, it releases powerful enzymes. Freshly grated horseradish will turn dark and bitter if not immediately immersed in vinegar; prepared bottled horseradish is a popular condiment preserved in vinegar or beet juice that gives the Bloody Mary its kick and cuts the sweetness of cocktail sauce. Horseradish sauce made with cream is a popular accompaniment to roast beef in Britain.
Horseradish is one of the five bitter herbs of the Jewish Passover festival, as a bitter herb it represents the bitterness of slavery.
Japanese wasabi, which is also called Japanese horseradish, is used to make a green-colored condiment paste with a sharp bite and mucous membrane-irritating vapors. Available fresh or in powder (to be mixed with water) or pre-made paste form, it is an indispensable accompaniment to sushi and sashimi, alongside pickled ginger and soy sauce.