It was my birthday at the weekend and I was given a wonderful selection of books by my friend Emily (the author of the fascinating Emily Books) from the Penguin Great Food series. In amongst them is a collection of pieces by Calvin Trillin called Eating with the Pilgrims. If you haven’t come across Trillin, he is a an amazingly humorous man who seems to write with an effortless and ultimately readable style. One of the articles is entitled Talk about Ugly where he addresses the immense ugliness of a Monkfish, one American phrase he uses to describe it is that it has been “hit up side the head with an ugly stick”. He’s not wrong, it is indeed a pretty vulgar looking fish, click here to have a look for yourself.
Having accepted this, I’m going to raise Trillin’s Monkfish a Celeriac and turn back to British shores and use an Oscar Wilde quote to say that the celeriac ‘must have fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down’.
As repugnant as the celeriac may be, it is delicious and has a slight peppery taste similar to celery but a little bit nuttier and I was thrilled to find it in our vegetable box this week. Here I give you a very simple celeriac remoulade recipe, but they are also mighty fine as a puree, in a soup or simply roasted.
4 tbsps mayonnaise
1-2 tbsps dijon mustard
2 large gherkins (approx 60g)
2 tsps capers
Peel the celeriac and cut away any particularly nobly bits that are too much for the peeler.
Either use a mandolin or a knife to finely slice the peeled celeriac. Slice those slices into thin strips and place in a bowl
Add the mayonnaise and dijon (add 1 tbsp first and more later to taste). Finely chop the gherkins and capers and toss into the bowl as well.
Season with some salt and pepper. Mix it all together, taste and add more dijon and seasoning if necessary. Serve.
This recipe is enough to serve between 4 and 6. We got through about half of it between the two of us with a some baked red mullet. The rest will keep nicely in the fridge for a few days and I’m looking forward to having it with some smoked fish (as suggested by James). It also delicious with hams, salamis and nice crusty bread. Mmmmmmm.
What’s your ugly food?