Monday, 12 December 2011

celeri remoulade


When I lived in Paris I used to treat myself to celeri remoulade from the traiteur every now and then. Once I'd got a job. It was long ago and far away, and I never thought to look for it in the supermarket, but it's never the same. It is one of my fantasy foods, and for a long time I've tried to make it, and failed. I think I thought it was all more mysterious than it is. I've finally done it.

Celeriac is an unattractive veg, usually about the same size as a large swede, or rutabaga as they call it in the US. It's very knobbly and a bit slimy when you peel it, in general it's rather weird. When you buy it avoid one with any soft bits if possible. If you find any, just cut them out.

What does it taste like? The flavour is particular, it is sweet, slightly rooty, with a little touch of aniseed. The texture in remoulade is firm, a bit like a part cooked carrot, because the veg is blanched and then steeped in the dressing. So you have to make it in advance.

I've seen recipes which add capers or gherkins into the sauce. I've no idea why. The remoulade that I like is a very mustardy maionnaise. I make it with a whole celeriac, which is enough for a week or a party of people as a starter. So I'm giving the recipe for a quarter of a large celeriac - make the rest into soup (recipe to follow).

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 heaped tbsp maionnaise
1/4 celeriac (peeled)
pepper and salt

Cook the celeriac for no more than five minutes in boiling water.
Drain, and while it cools mix the mustard and mayo together thoroughly
Cut the celeriac into slices about 2mm thick, then cut into strips about 2mm wide
Mix together the celeriac, finely chopped onion and mustardy mayo and set aside for at least six hours, taste and adjust seasoning, adding a squeeze of lemon juice if it seems too rich.

Eat as part of a mixed salad. Goes particularly well with sliced cooked beetroot and cucumber.

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