Celeriac remoulade

Celeriac remoulade title © J Horak-Druiff 2008


Nick and I are currently trying our best to learn conversational Spanish.  Why?  Ummm, because I’ve always wanted to learn a modern European language (Latin, I’m told, doesn’t  count!), and Spanish seems the most useful as it’s spoken all over South America as well as in Spain.  So here we are, about halfway through our course and battling to remember when to use the estar or ser form of the verb to be; or when to use el banco or un banco.  I can feel new synapses forming in my brain already!

But one of the things you always have to watch out for when learning the vocabulary of a foreign language is false friends – words that look so similar to English words that you assume they mean the same thing… but in reality they don’t.

In this way:

* bizarro is not so bizarre after all;

* carpeta is not something you will find covering your floor;

* being embarazado may be a very happy event;

* an exito is not the way out; and

* you won’t be doing any shooting with a revolver.

A culinary example of a false friend is a roulade and a remoulade.  They look pretty much the same, give or take two letters, so obviously they must be pretty much the same thing, right?  On this basis, I was always puzzled by the idea of celeriac remoulade – I mean, how could you roll something in a piece of celeriac?  Or, for that matter, why would you want to bake celeriac into a roll of something else??

Au contraire.

A roulade is a French culinary term referring to a thin piece of meat roll around some sort of filling and secured before cooking (although these days it also refers to other rolled dishes, including sweet dishes).  But a remoulade is a thick mayonnaise-based sauce, often flavoured with mustard, capers or anchovies.  Not so similar after all!

Celeriac is definitely not something I grew up with.  In fact, when I came to the UK, I don’t think I could have told a beet, a parsnip and a celeriac apart if my life depended on it.  But slowly it seems to have found its way into my lexicon and my kitchen.  Celeriac (or Apium graveolens) is a type of celery grown for its bulbous tap root rather than its leaves and stems – it also goes by the rather unfortunate name of knob celery ;-).  It’s a very versatile vegetable which can be mashed or made into a soup or gratin like potatoes but with only 5-6% of the starch; or it can be grated and eaten raw in salads.  It has the same sort of flavour as celery but less intense.

I’ve had it a couple of times in restaurants, most memorably at Tom’s Kitchen and Vivat Bacchus, but had never made it myself until Nick arrived back from a solo grocery shopping expedition the other day with a huge bulb – “It was marked down!”.  Bless.  For a change, the weather played along and we were able to have a cosy little braai a deux for dinner, and to accompany the grilled meat I could think of nothing nicer than some crunchy celeriac remoulade.  We kept ours simple, but you could certainly spruce it up further with the addition of cornichons or capers.  It’s definitely going to be a regular on our summer menu from now on!

Celeriac is high in Vitamin C, calcium and potassium and is low in fat (which makes up somewhat for the mayonnaise dressing…!).  The only note of caution is that it oxidises really quickly, so once cut, you need to rub the cut surfaces with lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown and then black.  Once grated, make sure to mix the celeriac with the dressing as soon as possble to prevent discolouration.




one small (or half a large) celeriac
juice of one lemon
2-3 Tbsp good mayonnaise
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 Tbsp capers (optional)
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley (optional)
salt and coarse-ground black pepper


Peel the celeriac (easier to use a very sharp knife than a vegetable peeler as the skin is quite robust!) and grate it.  If you have only used half the celeriac, rub the cut surface with lemon juice before wrapping in plastic wrap and returning to the fridge.

Place in a bowl with the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice and optional capers and parsley.  Mix well.  Check for flavour and add mayo or mustard as required.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with grilled or cold meats – or on a sandwich!

Other remoulades on the food blogs:

Elise of Simply Recipes made avocado remoulade
Haalo of Cook (Almost)Anything at Least Once made fennel remoulade
Alanna of A Veggie Venture made celeriac remoulade
Pille of Nami-Nami also made celeriac remoulade

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  1. says

    I bought some celeriac at a fruit and veg vendor in Salt River, but because I did not know the vegetable, I think it was no longer edible, because it was stringy, hard and horrible.I’ve heard that there is a new organic market in Stellenbosch and it is apparently something to behold – maybe I’m in luck there! The remoulade looks so yummee – almost like a crunchy coleslaw.

  2. says

    I have only found one place in Cape Town that sells celeriac , the guy outside Giovannis! Going to stop past and see if he has any in stock and try this.

  3. says

    Yum yum yum, I love a crunch remoulade. Celeriac is so underrated don’t you think? I had no idea it went by the name of ‘know celery’! IT shall be known by that name in my house from now on!

  4. says

    False friends are bed…and so is being a letter off. Mon mari once ordered me to be cut – rather than getting me a coffee… cortada v cortado…

  5. says

    I came thisclose to making remoulade while considering what to do w/ my shrunken head of a celeriac. Next time this recipe! Fun post, Jeanne. To be a kid again, when new languages were so much easier to pick up.

  6. says

    I’ve always been intimidated by celeriac. But these days, everywhere I look, celeriac is there. I think the universe is trying to tell me to give them a try. :)

  7. Mel says

    I love Spain and find Spanish relatively easy in terms of pronunciation… you just lisp lots!
    Tried to make my 1st beef roast, looked kak, texture kak, taste pretty kak. Am resigning and going back to my 1st love… spaghetti or macaroni.

  8. says

    The roulade/remoulade confusion totally got me a while ago.
    Hope you’re having fun with spanish, love the language, just need to work more at it :)
    And this roulade (wait! remoulade! haa haa!) sounds delicious.

  9. says

    Kalyn – it’s just fabulous! You always tend to think of celeriac as only a winter vegetable – but this is a perfectly summery dish!
    Nina – LOL! I have to say, celeriac does not look promising when you start. And even nibbling on the grated celeriac before you add the dressing, it’s rather dry and unappetising. But with the dressing…. Do give this recipe a try – my husband is totally hooked :)
    Pille – yum! And I’ve now added you to my list of “other bloggers making remoulade”. Spanish is still great fun, although I’m sure I’m torturing the grammar!
    Rosemary – hey, I’ve seen that guy outside Giovanni’s! You make me homesick now… But yes, definitely try and get some and make this yummy dish :)
    Helen – definitely, celeriac is underrated. And I think “knob celery” is just the most hilarious name. Glad I’m not the only one with the silly sense of humour…
    Vegeyum – you’ll be so glad you did!
    Margot – only a pleasure :) And love your idea of the Waldorf salad with a celeriac twist – must try that :)
    Sean – me neither, till I moved to the UK. And even then it took me years before I could confidently identify it by sight!
    Katie – LOL!! Reminds me of a friend who went to Germany after school said “Ich bin heiss!”, meaning she was hot. Apparently a better translation was “I’m on heat!” And yes, I’m sure I will spend many years spouting such grammatical abberrations as “We am going beach yesterday” or similar…
    Susan – shrunken celeriac heads – sounds very Far Side 😉 And you will love this recipe – particularly because you can take the basic structure and then play around! And if I resent my parents for anything, it’s for causing me NOT to be born in Europe because if I’d been surrounded by so many languages as a kid I’m sure I’d speak more than the 2 I do today…
    Dragon – a yoga-teaching friend of mine always says that when you are on the path the universe wants you to take, things become easy. So if life surrounds you with celeriac… make remoulade!
    Mel – love the lisping theory 😉 And I must say, I am really enjoying learning the language! Pity the roast beef did not turn out too well :( Maybe too long in the oven? Next time I’m in Cape Town, how about I give you a roast meat masterclass??
    Kaykat – I know, what’s a couple of letters between friends?? Why go changing the entire meaning of the word?! Am enjoying the Spanish – after 8 weekly classes I have enough of a vocab to string together coherent sentences that are not on our phrase list – hurrah! Well, I think they’re coherent…
    Suganya – *blush*, I feel suitably blessed now :) Glad the recipe was just in time to help you make your dish! I will check out Susan’s post and add to my links list.
    Sorina – a word of warning – it’s addictive 😉

  10. says

    Nice clear recipe, I must try it. I’ve eaten it out but never make it although I LOVE celeriac / potato mash in winter. I’ve been haphazardly trying to learn some Italian but so far can only say food related things.

  11. Martijn says

    Celeriac is also one of the main ingredients for “snert”, Dutch pea soup.
    It’s boiled for over 6 hours, together with winter carrots, leeks, green peas, split speas, pork cutlets and bacon.
    It resembles stew more than it does soup. :)
    I was trying to see if it was sold in Cape Town, because i’m going there to visit friends and they’d like me to make it for them. :)

    • Jeanne says

      Hi Martijn – that’s so funny, because “snert” in Afrikaans means rubbish! The sup sounds anything but rubbish though… I am not sure if celeriac is sold in Cape Town as I have never looked for it there, but I am pretty sure that there is a good chance you’d find it at the Food Lovers’ Market. Good luck!