Credit: Earl Carter

Salt-baked celeriac with mustard cream and salmon roe

David Moyle is a chef. He is a food editor of The Saturday Paper.

Credit: Earl Carter

I’m a massive fan of cooking vegetables as you would meat, and this time of year is prime time to practise. Root vegetables are coming on and they are simply the best at translating slow-cooking techniques often reserved for animal cuts on the bone.

Keeping vegetables whole and intact for as long as you can yields similar benefits to meat on the bone, but for me cooking in a self-sealing dome of salt – or clay and hay – is the pinnacle.

There is a sense of occasion, and fear, prior to cracking open the dome, so word to the wise: practise this technique alone or with a trusted few before using it as your pièce de résistance. I’ve cracked open some duds before and the sense of anti-climax is strong.

In this recipe I serve the celeriac with mustard cream and salmon roe, but it is really adaptable. It would sit well with sautéed livers, for instance. Pretty much anything I serve with it, I treat as a sauce. The celeriac ends up being treated similarly to pasta or rice.

Once the celeriac or other whole root vegetable has cooled to room temperature, you could almost put it in the fridge and slice it as you need for sandwiches. The salt works in a couple of ways: one, it forms a crust that steams the vegetable in its own moisture, and two, salt from the crust will permeate the skin and season
the flesh.

Wine pairing:

2016 Domaine de la Pépière Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, France ($30) – Mike Bennie, wine and drinks journalist.


Serves 4

  • 600g fine salt
  • 90ml egg white
  • 1 celeriac, whole
  • 30g mustard powder
  • 175ml cider vinegar
  • 20g sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 100ml pouring cream
  • 80g salmon roe
  • chopped chives
  • cracked pepper
  1. Mix the salt and the egg whites to make a type of paste. Find a tray that is a snug fit for the celeriac and make a base with the salt. Push the celeriac into the base before forming the rest of the salt around the outside and on top to form an igloo. If the salt doesn’t take at first, you can give the tray five minutes in the oven to set and just patch the holes in the casing with more paste until it is completely sealed.
  2. Bake in an oven at 150ºC for three hours then let the celeriac return to room temperature. Smash the dome with a hammer – taking care not to destroy the contents – then remove the celeriac. Peel the skin off using a fine knife and cut into cubes of about two centimetres.
  3. For the mustard cream, combine all the ingredients before gently incorporating the creams. Check for further seasoning.
  4. To finish, place the cubes of celeriac into four shallow bowls then spoon the mustard cream over each piece. Scatter the salmon roe over the cream and finish with chopped chives and cracked pepper.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 26, 2018 as "Celeriac to basics".

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