Cocktail or Seafood Sauce

Horseradish roots

By Cat, Sept 2018 (image, right, from Wikimedia Commons (1))

Cocktail sauce has long been my go-to condiment for deep fried prawns and/or French fries. And now that I know how to make my own catsup (by lacto-fermentation), I love my cocktail sauce all the more. After a conversation about cocktail sauce with a friend who owns the Old Bridge Pub here in Bigfork, I decided I’d add my recipe here.

It was my Dad who first introduced me to horseradish, when he grew it in our garden. My first taste of it, freshly shredded into a bowl, brought a painful scrunched up look to my face, and whimpering sounds from my throat. But when I learned to add it as a flavoring to other foods, I began to see its merit.

Cocktail or Seafood Sauce

One of my jobs as a growing adolescent, was to be the official taster for seasoning gravy and sauces, and to make condiments like tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. This recipe is based on what I made way back then, but uses lacto-fermented catsup instead of regular ketchup. You could certainly use regular ketchup, just avoid the commercial stuff that contains GMO ingredients (like corn, soy or canola). The same goes for prepared horseradish – avoid brands with GMO ingredients.

I’ve also consulted two similar online recipes (2, 3) to help me with the ingredient amounts, as it has been a few years since I’ve made this.

About Horseradish

1 Tbsp of fresh grated Horseradish = 2 Tbsp bottled

If you want to grate your own horseradish, I strongly recommend reading the post on The Spruce Eats (4) about this, because the odor can be overwhelming and can even burn your sinuses.

Commercially prepared horseradish, or “prepared horseradish” comes in two types, so be sure to read the labelled ingredients:

  • Refrigerated horseradish is the purest. There are 2 brands I use (listed ingredients in parenthesis): Gold’s Prepared Horseradish (“Horseradish, Vinegar and Salt“) or Bubbies Prepared Horseradish (“Horseradish, White Vinegar, Pure Cane Sugar, Salt, and Mustard Oil “). These can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocer, and must be refrigerated as soon as you get it home. [NOTE: Gold’s Prepared Horseradish is not the same as Gold’s Horseradish Sauce which comes in a squeeze-bottle and is shelf-stable.]
  • Shelf-Stable horseradish can include GMO ingredients. It is either mixed with cream/sour cream, or has added oils and preservatives. Be sure to read the label to avoid GMO ingredients and questionable preservatives. Here’s an example ingredient list (5) (I’ve highlighted the questionable ones): water, soybean oil, horseradish, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, corn starch, sugar, salt, egg yolks, mustard flour, lemon juice concentrate.

Recipe (about ¾ cup)

  • ½ cup lacto-fermented catsup or Organic catsup*
  • 1 -2 Tbsp prepared horseradish (or home-prepped fresh, with vinegar), to taste
  • 1 – 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ -1 tsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste
  • ½ -1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Equipment:
  • small bowl
  • whisk
  • glass jar or bottle, with lid, for storage


  1. Whisk all the ingredients together until well mixed. Transfer to a jar or glass bottle, with lid, for storage.
  2. Refrigerate at least 60 minutes before serving.

‘* Instead of catsup, you can use:

  • scant ½ cup tomato paste
  • ¼ tsp anchovy paste
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup or 2 tsp dark molasses
  • 1 – 2 tsp apple cider vinegar, to taste
  • small clove of garlic, peeled, minced & mashed to a paste with pinch of  salt

Fermented Cocktail Sauce

This is basically my lacto-fermented catsup recipe, with the horseradish added prior to fermenting. I’ve not yet tested this version.

Note that no added vinegar is called for (above what is included in the prepared horseradish); this is because the lacto-baacteria produce lactic acid which provides the tart flavor. I’m hoping that bit of vinegar doesn’t interfere with the lacto-fermentation.

If it does, then the solution is to use chopped fresh horseradish in the fermenting mix: peel and chop the root, then combine with salt and a little bit of water (for a 2% brine: 19 grams of salt per quart of water) in your blender. Beware: because vinegar has not been added, your face and eyes will burn (use goggles if you have them); go outside and walk around a bit before continuing. Stir that mixture into the combined other ingredients (as in step 2, below). I based this option on a fermented horseradish post on Divine Health from the Inside Out (6).

Makes about 1 ¼ cup.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • ¾ cup tomato paste (preferably homemade or Organic)
  • ¼ – ½ tsp anchovy paste (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled, minced & mashed to a paste with ⅛ tsp of the salt
  • ¾ tsp Unrefined sea salt, or less if using fish sauce instead of anchovy paste
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup or ¾ tsp molasses
  • 2- 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
  • ½ -1 tsp hot sauce (such as Tabasco), or to taste
  • ½ -1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp liquid from another lacto-fermentation product (or ¼ tsp culture starter mixed with a few Tbsp water)
  • 1 -2 Tbsp prepared horseradish, to taste
  • Equipment
  • bowl
  • immersion blender or manual blender
  • food mill (optional); see photo, below
  • whisk
  • half pint mason jar or larger for fermenting and storage


  1. Combine all ingredients except horseradish in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender or other implement. If not completely pureed, use a food mill (pictured below, from Wikimedia Commons)
  2. Whisk in the prepared horseradish until combined
  3. Place in wide-mouth mason jar; the top of the mixture should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar.
  4. Leave at room temperature for 2 – 3 days (to desired level of tartness), stirring once each day, and tasting on second day to see if ready. Then transfer to fridge.

Food Mill (Moulinette)


  1. Photo:

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