CELERY & FENNEL SALAD

THIS HAS TO ONE OF MY FAVOURITES

To cook vegetables (and I don’t mean vegetarian), you really have to up your creative game to get people interested. you have to learn a whole new set of techniques. It doesn’t mean that other people can’t learn it, but it is starting from the basics again. You know when you’re growing up and someone is teaching you how to cook, or you’re learning through a cookbook, they’re really teaching you how to cook meat, they’re not teaching you how to cook vegetables.

To be a Chef, or a person that just loves bloody good food, you have to be creative, try not to have boundaries, just have that creative mind and the knowledge for the five senses. 

Celery & Fennel Salad

12 grams pumpernickel (remove crusts and cut into small dice)

Vegetable oil for frying pumpernickel

140 grams celery (about 4 stalks), string removed, sliced 1cm thick

140 grams fennel sliced 1cm thick, parallel to the base

15 grams extra virgin olive oil

Lemon juice as needed

Celery leaves, as needed

Fennel fronds, as needed

Small block of King Island Blue Cheese, Frozen Hard

  • Heat 3 cm of oil in a very small pot to about 130. Slowly fry the pumpernickel cubes until darkened and crispy, about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels and reserve.
  • Option 1; If you have a vacuum sealer, combine the sliced celery and fennel in a bag with a couple pinches of Maldon salt and seal at maximum vacuum. When ready to serve, transfer from bag to a bowl.
  • Option 2; Combine the sliced celery, sliced fennel, olive oil, and a couple of pinches of Maldon salt in a bowl.
  • Toss with lemon juice to taste and add more salt as needed.
  • To serve, divide the salad onto 4 chilled plates. Distribute the croutons and garnish with the celery and fennel leaves. Immediately before serving, remove the blue cheese from the freezer and shave a few paper thin slices over each salad, using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler.

If you happen to have access to a vacuum sealer compressing the celery and fennel gives a great texture and translucent appearance. If not, you can definitely skip it. Or if you have time, cut the vegetables and then freeze them the day before you want to serve, then thaw them an hour ahead of time, pat dry with paper towels, and then put them in the fridge to firm back again. In the freezer, ice crystals will rupture the cell walls, producing an effect somewhat similar to compression.

If you want to add one more component, a few pickled grapes would be really good I think. You could also replace or supplement the pumpernickel with toasted (or lightly candied) walnuts or pecans.

 

RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION

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