Raw, cooked or fried, the celeriac was high on my “hated vegetables” list since I was a child. When I started to cook, the only time it appeared in my kitchen was in a home-made stock composition. Once the stock cooked, celeriac would end up in the bin. Observing some of my French friends enjoying their ubiquitous céléri rémoulade I didn’t know at the time I began to be intrigued. It took me however a long long time to dare tasting this despised root, albeit disguised. Celeriac Remoulade was a real revelation and I am convinced it has a power to convert more than one celeriac hater. In fact, hardly a couple of days after I tasted it, I bought the first celeriac in my life with another intention than making stock.
I was of course lucky to have my first céléri rémoulade in a good restaurant and not in a school cafeteria or bought in a supermarket. In fact, most of what is labelled as “céléri rémoulade” is terrible (from what I’ve heard not only in France) or simply hasn’t got much in common with the original preparation. Remoulade Sauce means basically seasoned mayonnaise with herbs, gherkins and capers, and a good Celeriac Remoulade is so simple and undemanding, it is hard to believe how efficiently and frequently it is spoiled.
My slightly modified recipe comes from the French classic “Petit Larousse de la cuisine“, but many different traditional versions exist. Some advice blanching celeriac after it’s grated, but I think this way it loses the wonderful fresh crunchy side. Some literally soak the celeriac in the sauce, but I prefer to keep it light, with hardly any sauce. Of course you can adjust the mayonnaise’s amount to your own taste. Celeriac Remoulade keeps very well in the fridge, up to a week (unless the mayonnaise is home-made). Definitely a very healthy and good change from a green salad, it is excellent with a pork roast, cold cuts, Egg and Bacon Pie, toasts, sandwiches…
Preparation: 10 minutes if using a food processor or more, if you grate the celeriac on a traditional grater
Ingredients (serves four as a side dish):
1 big celeriac (approx. 500 – 600g)
100 ml mayonnaise
10 flat tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (I usually put parsley and chives, but my recipe mentions also tarragon and chervil; other recipes enumerate borage among the remoulade herbs)
5 small finely chopped French gherkins (cornichons) or two big pickled cucumbers
5 tablespoons drained capers
(anchovy essence or 2 mixed anchovies)
Peel the celeriac and grate it very quickly on a vegetable grater (the bigger holes).
Combine it with the mayonnaise, the herbs, the gherkins, the capers and the anchovies if using. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir well and taste. If it seems a bit bland, add some mustard.
Serve preferably chilled (if all the ingredients are very cold, it can be served straight away).