Beautiful flavour from a seriously ugly root
Don't be put off by the gnarly appearance of celeriac, it can make smooth, delicious dishes
Celeriac’s turnip-sized round root is juicy and beautiful to eat raw or cooked
Celeriac is (as many of you will know) a variety of celery grown for its edible root. Instead of the luscious green edible and slender stems of celery, all the energy of this verity goes into growing a turnip-sized round root which is juicy and beautiful to eat raw or cooked.
Both plants descend from wild celery and it’s a wonder how they came to be so different. Perhaps like two close sisters who travel the world in opposite directions for years and are then reunited only to discover they have grown apart. Similar but different. We grow and change continually, like our vegetable varieties.
In the case of celeriac, we often overlook the tender green leafy tops, going straight for the root of the vegetable. If tender and clean, these tops pair beautifully with white fish, such as hake or Pollock. There is great line-caught Pollock to be had in Ireland now so please give cod a break before it has been fished to extinction.
Perhaps the most famous celeriac dish is celeriac remoulade. Remoulade is a classic French condiment that has a mayonnaise base along with shallots, capers, and plenty of fresh herbs. To make the celeriac version, simply add thinly cut pieces of celeriac to the a very mustardy mayonnaise along with all the above ingredients.
In terms of herbs, I tend to go for tarragon and chervil. In essence, its a posh coleslaw but at least you’ll be able to take a step towards becoming a more consummate foodie and eco-warrior as you serve your organic celeriac remoulade with your poached line caught pollock and wild rocket salad.
Celeriac root has a long history of being used to make soups, broths and purées. In 1536, the botanical writer Ruellius mentions the root as good to eat cooked. It was considered an Arabic delicacy. Covering the celeriac in milk and heating it until its soft it an excellent way to make a quick purée. In the restaurant, we usually add butter and cream to the purée as well to give it more body (but that what cooks always do, isn’t it?)