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Horseradish powder is a spicy, hot powder that is normally mixed into cream or egg based sauces, like mayonnaise, sour cream or crème fraiche, to produce very “hot” dipping sauces. You get horseradish powder by using the root of the plant, Amoracia rusticana, a member of the cabbage family. This is dried and then finely ground to produce horseradish powder. You are more likely to see horseradish power mixed into various spreads than you are to find it in the powdered form. But many now search for the powder so they can decide the level of heat and flavoring they’d like in a sauce.
The horseradish root is a close relative to mustard and contains an eye-watering essential oil that produces the heat and spice for which horseradish powder is known. This chemical, present in both mustard and horseradish, is called allyl isothiocynate. When the horseradish is not dried and powdered right away, the chemical begins to degrade and may produce a bitter rather than a hot taste.
Normally you’ll use horseradish powder in sauces and dips that aren’t cooked. Cooking tends to break down the oil present in the horseradish powder and produces less heat. On the other hand, if you’d like a little bit of the flavor of horseradish without too much spiciness, you can use a bit of the powder in cooked sauces.
Perhaps one of the most happy marriages in the US and UK is beef, like roast beef or prime rib, served with a side of horseradish sauce. When you have horseradish power on hand, you can make your own sauce, which will often taste much fresher than the various horseradish dips you can purchase in stores. Merely add horseradish powder to either sour cream or crème fraiche in order to make a delicious and spicy sauce to accompany beef.
Another relative of the cabbage family that many find comparable to horseradish is wasabi. This is often called Chinese, Japanese, or simply Asian horseradish sauce. Usually, wasabi is not sold in powdered form. You either buy it in tubes, or grate fresh wasabi. Like horseradish powder, wasabi is very spicy, and contains isothiocynates. Wasabi powder does not usually contain horseradish and is instead a mix of powdered horseradish, green food coloring and mustard.
Look for the powder of horseradish next to other spices in local grocery stores. It might also be sold next to the butcher’s section or meat section of a store. If you’re looking for wasabi, be sure to read the labels carefully to make sure you’re buying the “real” wasabi, You may locate this in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store, or in Asian grocery stores.