Céleri Rémoulade – something French on the side!

Céleri Rémoulade

How very rude of me! It seems as if I neglected to even acknowledge that fine specimen sitting to the right of last week’s  endearing Cuban. I suppose, however, that when you stand next to something tasty and mouthwatering as a that Cuban is you do run the risk of not being noticed. Several readers you did notice and so I am hoping to make up for my terrible manners by featuring this wonderful salad in a post now.

Monsieur Céleri Rémoulade, will you forgive me my trespass?

I experienced my first celeriac salad nearly 20 years ago at the hands of Francois, the very young ‘old friend’ of my then boyfriend. Francois was quite good looking in that way only a European can pull off. Do you know what I mean? Had he not been French you would not only not give him the time of day but you would wonder how anyone could be serious about those pants. But he *was* French and therefore he read twice as attractive as he would have otherwise.

His pants would be all the fashion rage in the US in about 3 years, much to my chagrin. They still looked rediculous on me

In Paris Francois worked as an assistant chef in his father’s family-owned cafe. My boyfriend had met him on a Paris vacation taken many years before I came on the scene. Not surprisingly, the BF failed to ever mention him to me previously despite the many *many* times “The Paris Vacation” intruded on our everyday conversations.

Francois showed up at our door unannounced one steamy summer evening and surprised us by asking for a place to stay for a  week. Just like that and without any notice. He would surprise me again later that evening by making a overt play for my boyfriend — right in front of me (and and after just one glass of wine!)

Later I would be surprised yet again when I finally realized that our visitor was just as surprised to hear that my boyfriend had a boyfriend himself! It seems that someone had neglected to tell me that a certain souvenier had been left behind in Paris unbeknownst to me since “The Paris Vacation.”

Uh huh.

Francois would later confirmed for me that his arrival was  not even a surprise at all  (except to me) since his it had been planned long before he showed up.


When time acts as life’s rear view mirror it has a way of throwing light onto things so as to reveal what should not have surprised anyone at all at the time.  Hindsight is 20/20 and all that. Now when I look back I know that the biggest surprise that week should have been my realization that I actually quite loved the flavor of that gnarled up root ball.
(I’m talking about the celeriac now.)
Francois brought one home one day from the grocery store and while I had seen them in the produce aisle I believed they were for visual effect and not meant for eating. So while the BF and I sorted out our farce of a life together, that week Francois would introduced me to all sorts of new flavors and tricks (kitchen and otherwise.)
I ate very well that week. It was the least he could do all things considered.

Céleri Rémoulade

Celeriac is the root ball structure of the celery plant and its distinctive flavor in this salad is quite popular in France. Rémoulade is actually the word given to the mayonnaise-like sauce that accompanies it. Together they are a classic French side dish. Around here its not so easy to find celeriac of a decent size but when I find one at the farmer’s market I buy it to make this salad.

This particular version of this easy-to-prepare-side-salad with a certain international je ne sais quoi comes compliments of the très beau Laura Calder. She hosts the French Food at Home program from her chic beautiful Nova Scotia home. (Actually I don’t think it is her real home even though that is the intended setup. J’accuse!) Ms. Calder makes her own mayo for this recipe which is actually quite easy to do and takes very little time but in the spirit of my leftover-makeover day convenience prevailed and I used the mayo in the fridge — something David Lebovitz has confirmed for me most French do anyway.

Classic versions of this dish don’t have have the bits of apple or fennel seed in the mix but seeing Ms. Calder’s inclusion of them was just the extra touch needed to renew my interest. I could now enjoy celeriac again without fearing the once familiar taste of Francois in my mouth.

The measurements below are estimates. When you make this please do so au pif so that you end up with the flavor balances you prefer. Traditionally the root is grated very course or cut into small matchsticks so that it doesn’t get too soggy or mushy when served. My mandolin was acting out so I sliced up small sticks with a knife.

Céleri Rémoulade

Céleri Rémoulade

This is what you will need:

  • 1 pound celeriac
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seed

This is how you make it:

  1. Remove the skin from the celeriac, halve the bulb(s), and slice into very thin julienne slices.
  2. Julienne the apple, and toss both in a bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl whisk the mayo with the vinegar and mustard.
  4. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, to taste.
  5. Stir in the fennel seed, and toss just enough with the celeriac to coat.
  6. Cover and refrigerate until serving.


Cook’s Note: Several hours is fine: some would even argue it’s de rigueur.



About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. Oh, the salads I have tossed together with gnarled up balls of a certain size!! As I’ve gotten older, though, I find that I prefer to make my salads out of considerably younger, fresher, less wrinkled ingredients. I would of course eat your salad in a heartbeat.

  2. This is a remoulade I have to try! I grew up knowing only celeriac, and ignorant of the existence of its more slender brother:), but it was always hidden as an aromatic.
    And it is so true what you said about French men – just being French makes them more attractive:)
    Great story!

  3. I can just picture Francois… mon dieu! I’ve had similar unsettling situations but egads, not for a whole week! Love the story, love the recipe, love the blog 🙂

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for yet another delightful post. It was very considerate of you to recognize that, though many would of course fixate instantly on the meaty and substantial charms of the beautiful Cuban you brought the party, there are those of us who find our mouths watering over less obvious morsels.

    I look forward to hearing more of the tricks you were introduced to by Francois on that holiday.


  5. Ha! Love that you explained which “gnarled up root ball” you were referring to. By the way, since you’ve so generously shared Ina Garten, maybe you’d be willing to take a look at my current post? =D

  6. What a fab story! I have never tried celeric remoulade, but then again, if I bumped into a Francois to make it for me, I wouldn’t say no.

  7. Just came by to see your batons(?) but I’m very happy to check out your celeri remoulade. This salad is one of my all time favorites, I have a vegan recipe that uses cashew butter that is delicious. I’ll be back for the batons,lol;-)

  8. Trevor,
    J’aime vos racettes, mais je visit pour vos histoires pleine d’humour.

  9. Just saying “remoulade” makes me hungry. Kind of like lasagna – and I don’t know why. I learned so many french terms here, that I just might impress a few people and make this. Course, I love celery and use it often, but need to try the root ball (I’m talking about the celery now). I know it’s a salad, but it looks so rich and french and . . . .

  10. Sounds like you had quite a complex relationship there! You’re plate looks yummy to the max. I learned about celery root from a Jacques Pepin technique book I was working through, thinking it would be disgusting and shocked everyone, myself included, but how delicious it was. A few months later I was in France and it was absolutely EVERYWHERE! They go nuts for the stuff, it’s almost like our potato salad, or coleslaw, or… other ubiquitous items. I think I will make some more now that you have reminded me about it. Merci beaucoup to you, madame!

  11. Ken, only my closest friends call me ‘madame’. ;>

  12. You are a true gourmet chef. I love your blog!