Godly Greens: My braised celeriac.

by cookingbrains09

braised celeriac1_ IMG_6121

An incredibly tender texture, complex flavours, a good brown on the outside and a brilliant gravy to serve with it all. Sunday roasts make for happy hearts and full stomachs. Especially if no-one has to die for them. Beautifully seared on the outside and creamy on the inside, my braised celeriac makes for a good alternative to any roast. Served with a beautiful rich sauce, I’ll have this brown beauty instead of a roast any day.

I love a good Sunday roast. The sauce, the tenderness of the meat, the warmth, the shared laughter and the peace of a dimly lit dinner table. They warm my heart and make any place feel like home. And any crowd like family. But as much as I adore a shank of lamb or a pork-belly cooked to tender perfection, I can’t help but question and restrict my own meat-consumption as often and thorough as I can (without having made the final step just yet…). Looking at my blog, I think my relatively meat-free diet should become apparent. I’ll save my words on why this is, on why I think that less and organic meat is the path to take, for a different time. It is getting late and I just returned from a Chinese All-You-Can-Eat and am stuffed with duck… really, right now I am in no position to talk morals or agricultural politics.
What I do want to talk about, however, is vegetables. Especially those that are often griefly underappreciated, like brussel sprouts and cauliflower, save a special place in my heart. Often, I believe our reservations with certain vegetables is rooted (… haha… sorry) in a lack of familiarity and understanding. When you think of celeriac what, if anything, comes to your mind? Seriously, read no further, take a moment to think about it. I’ll make a prediction.

You are thinking about…… Soup.

Because that’s what I think about when I eat, smell or think of celeriac. Soup. Celeriac, however, has much more to offer, if given a little attention. Cut in thick slices, slowly braised in a mix of soy sauce and mirin, the tough and overpowering vegetable achieves a silky smoothness that is quite unlike anything you would expect. The richness of sweet soy sauce and mirin is beautifully accompanied by the salty light soy sauce. Add a pinch of chilli for warmth, and you’ll end at something quite unexpected. My braised celeriac has all kinds of surprises to offer, and you should definitely give it a go and be it just to let me know how much you hated it. This great vegetable doesn’t attempt to taste like meat, but it surely makes for a great substitute at any roast. And it is a dish that I’d like to have any day.

My braised celeriac

Sweet soy sauce 
Light soy sauce
Sesame oil
Vegetable oil
Dried chilli

Sesame seeds

For one person, plan in about half a medium celeriac head (roughly 300 grams, I assume), in which case one unit for the braising liquid equals about a tablespoon.

Peel and clean the celeriac. There is no need to cut it in fancy shapes, thick slices will do just as fine. Aim for a slice of celeriac about the thickness auf your thumb.
Heat up a tablespoon of vegetable oil and two teaspoons of sesame oil (or more if you like the flavour) in a pan. Once hot, let the slices of celeriac slide in, be careful – hot oil is hot. Let the celeriac brown on both sides, each for about 4 minutes (or until a darkish brown has formed). Mix two parts of dark sweet soy sauce, two parts of light soy sauce, two parts of mirin and three parts of water and add to the pan. Cover with a lid and allow to carefully simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn the celeriac slices every now and then, to aid even cooking. Remove once the blunt side of a knife cuts through the slice easily, or after 20 minutes. Add a bit of dried chilli flakes to the braising liquid and allow the content of the pan to reduce. If necessary, add a bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and a few chopped chives. Enjoy this with a side of rice.