Chosen Bites: Last of the uglies

Horseradish may be a pungent perennial, but it's the perfect flavoring when used in small doses.

Horseradish 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Horseradish 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
I don’t have to tell any Jewish cook how ugly this last of the Ugly Ducklings is. Frequently only used during Pesach and any other time gefilte fish is served, horseradish is certainly not an attractive member of the produce family.
Horseradish is a member of the mustard family which also includes wasabi, broccoli and cabbages. While relatively odor free while uncut, horseradish becomes extremely pungent once cut or grated, and as any Jewish home cook knows, is an extreme nose and eye irritant as mustard gases are produced. If the cut horseradish is stabilized in an acidic solution, the horseradish becomes bitter and darkens with exposure to oxygen.
Horseradish contains potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as volatile oils, such as mustard oil (which has antibacterial properties due to the antibacterial mechanism). The pungent perennial has been cultivated since antiquity and is used in many cuisines throughout Asia, Europe and America.
Powerfully flavored horseradish becomes nutty flavored and slightly sweet when cooked. It is delicious on fish and meat alike. I love the flavor on this pan roasted rib eye steak. The horseradish and garlic in combination make the meat taste very complex, mouthwatering and earthy.
While the last several posts have been dedicated to the homelier members of the vegetable world, I hope that the possibilities of delicious flavors hidden under hideousness has opened your eyes to the fact that you cannot judge a book OR a vegetable by its appearance.
Horseradish Crusted Steak Serves 4
For the horseradish crust: 2 heads garlic, roasted, squeezed and pureed 2 tablespoons prepared (white) horseradish ¼ cup breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley Salt and pepper
For the steaks: Olive oil Salt and freshly cracked pepper 4 rib-eye steaks, about 1 ½ inches thick
Preheat oven to 177 Celsius
1. Mix all of the ingredients for the horseradish crust together in a bowl and set aside.
2. Place a large sauté pan, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium high heat. Generously season the steaks with salt and pepper. Sear each steak on both sides until they are quite brown and caramelized (about 5 minutes per side).
3. Generously pat the horseradish crust on each of the top sides of the steaks. Place the steaks on a baking sheet or in a pan large enough to accommodate them.
4. Cook the steaks until they are medium rare (about 5-7 minutes). Serve immediately.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes.