Celeriac Remoulade is a classic french vegetable side dish which involves no cooking and uses just a few simple ingredients to gives this root vegetable a creamy mustardy tang. It’s a great accompaniment now that autumn is upon us and celeriac is coming into season, as well as being super versatile and vegetarian to boot, plus it keeps well in the fridge if you need to make ahead!
I’m completely overjoyed to be publishing this recipe. It’s been a long time coming, having langsuished on my ‘make-for-the-blog’ recipe list for nearly a year, coiled up and ready to leap into action like a collapsible table at a church fair.
Celeriac remoulade falls categorically into the genre of classic recipes. If they reformed education to deal with things that really matter in life, these are the dishes which should be on the national curriculum. Along with a sturdy knowledge of traditional french cooking, as opposed to all those awful, impractical and useless subjects like maths, physics and German.
Food of Love.
French food simply makes me fall in love. I get giddy with excitement at the thought of a Tarte Tatin or Steak Tartare and I love the word ‘roux’. A French bistro exudes some kind of chic, cosmopolitan passion almost as cool as smoking a pack of Gitanes whilst reading Jean-Paul Sartre. That’s before the food arrives, which is an entire subject of itself.
My passion comes from the fact that the French, like the Italians, understand simplicity in food. The French equally understand complexity, but they also know how to create fabulous dishes that don’t have much in them, that are just fabulous. Celeriac remoulade is one of them.
Yotam Ottolenghi, my eternal culinary guide, helped kindle my love affair with celeriac nearly a year ago. I was on the receiving end of his (and Ramael Scully’s) NOPI Cookbook, an utterly fabulous selection of recipes which take his already fabulous food to the next level.
Most of the salivatory recipes featured within NOPI involve protracted make times or slightly more complex and lengthy, restaurant style instructions. Nestled amongst those behemoths was a little gem of a recipe, one which appealed to the simplistic cook in me. Whole baked celeriac.
All that was required was a celeriac, trim it slightly, rub it with oil and salt and pop it in the oven for a few hours. It was utterly joyous in it’s simplicity, I just couldn’t wait to try this little gem out. It even inspired my “Will It Roast” series where I attempted to bake whole vegetables to see what happened.
The flavour of celeriac causes me some confusion, I find it’s behaviour quite unique, tasting like little else (well, apart from celery), and it’s very distinct in that gustatory presence. As expected the NOPI recipe was a success, and the treatment made a great job of bringing out the best of the flavour, ensconcing the vegetable with that roasty sweetness that only long periods in the oven are able to create. The recipe warned that the skin can become bitter, however nothing of the sort, it was rich and tangy with even more sweetness than the inner vegetable.
What is Remoulade?
Remoulade is a sauce which falls precisely amongst the mayo/aioli type, based on an emulsion (an emulsion is oil and something non-soluble, mixed together) of oil and egg yolks. A lot of the ‘quick’ celeriac remoulade recipes will advocate using mayo to knock up a quick remoulade, however, my never-ending quest to do things properly requires making the emulsion from scratch, whisking away and adding the oil drip at a time. It’s not very hard, just requires a soupçon of patience and an extra 10 minutes.
In many ways the end product is like a celeriac coleslaw, but with a more distinct flavour from the celeriac and less zing due to the absence of onion. However, if you said to your guests, “I’ve made some ‘slaw” or “I’ve made some celeriac remoulade”, I can guarantee which one will make them fall in love with your food, before they’ve even seen it.
By Gavin Wren
Serves 6 as a side.
Uses 2 bowls and whisk
1 lemon, juice only
1 whole celeriac (700g)
2 large egg yolks
1.5 tablespoons dijon mustard
150ml groundnut oil
0.5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the egg yolks in another bowl and whisk the dijon mustard into them. Now is the time to add the oil, which is the bit people are scared of, but there’s no need to be. You just need to add the oil very slowly. Like 1 teaspoon at a time. It’s enormously useful if someone can help you, as you can whisk whilst they pour very, very gently.
If you are alone, add a teaspoon of oil and whisk it in. When it’s completely mixed add a few drops again. Repeat. Keep on adding small amounts at a time and whisk until they are all combined. When you’ve added all of the oil, you should end up with a creamy mixture, to which you can add the white wine vinegar and salt and pepper.
Toss this with the celeriac matchsticks and you’re ready to serve.