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I’m continuously surprised that what seems outlandishly exotic in one region is a quotidian afterthought in the next. Think of fennel in Italy and France, and its recent revelation here in the States. And celeriac, or celery root, is one of the humblest, earthiest, and most common ingredients in France, only to be elevated by nostalgic chefs at their Paris corner restaurants.
Celeriac has the texture of something between an apple, yuca, and jicama—tender, crisp, and decidedly root-vegetable in its heartiness. Its taste is fragrant celery, more like celery seed or celery salt than the leafy-headed green tops peeking up from the vegetable bin. It’s crunchy, moist, and grassy for its pallor. Most of all, it is fresh.
Celeriac remoulade is the French answer to coleslaw. Shredded ribbons of celeriac are tossed in a sauce of mayonnaise, lemon, and mustard. Inspired by a dish I had at my favorite restaurant in Paris near Odeon, I mix in flecks of sweet-tart green shreds of Granny Smith apples for sweetness, crowned with nubs of jumbo lump crabmeat.
I serve it in many forms: as an appetizer, next to a seafood lunch, with a sandwich, in a bun, in a lettuce cup, or even an endive spear. It goes anywhere; with anything. This is a slightly dressed-up version of the classic.
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- 1 tablespoon chervil, chopped
- 4 cups grated celeriac (about 1/2 large celeriac; a food processor works wonders here)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, grated
- 8 ounces jumbo lump crab meat
- In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustards, and chervil with salt and pepper. Toss the celeriac and apple with the remoulade sauce as soon as they are grated to prevent browning.
- I like to ring-mold the remoulade, and top it with the simple crab meat, and serve with lemon wedges. You could also toss everything together, and serve with crusty bread, or even lettuce cups.
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