Smoked Eel and Caramelized Celeriac Mousse with Hazelnuts

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you may have noticed I really like the pairing of smoked eel with celeriac. And here is yet another dish based upon that combination, with the addition of toasted hazelnuts. The celeriac is pressure cooked with baking soda to caramelize it and deepen the flavor. The smoked eel is pureed with cream and just a bit of lemon juice. The combination of textures (velvety eel and celeriac mousse with crunchy hazelnuts) and flavors (smoky eel, earthy celeriac, nutty hazelnuts) is very appealing. They are served together in tumbler as a small appetizer, also known as amuse bouche. Such an appetizer is supposed to ‘amuse’ your mouth, and this one certainly does. It is simple to prepare and can be prepared in advance, to be reheated just before you serve it.

Ingredients

For 4 servings

100 grams (3.5 oz) smoked eel

1 celeric

80 ml (1/3 cup) cream

50 grams (3 1/2 Tbsp) butter

3/4 tsp baking soda

(celery) salt

freshly ground white pepper

4 Tbsp hazelnuts

freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

Peel the celeriac. I find this easier with a chef’s knife than with a vegetable peeler, due to the thick skin.

Keep peeling until all you see is white. You will have to cut away the roots at the bottom.

Cut the celeriac into pieces of about 2 cm (1 inch).

In the pressure cooker, combine 60 ml (1/4 cup) water with 50 grams butter, 3/4 tsp baking soda, and 1/2 tsp salt.

Add the celeriac.

Close the pressure cooker, bring to pressure, and then cook for 20 minutes.

The celeriac will be nicely caramelized from the high temperature in the pressure cooker in combination with the baking soda (which helps with the Maillard).

Puree using an immersion blender…

…until completely smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground white pepper. You can use celery salt (salt mixed with ground celery seed) instead of regular salt for some additional celery flavor.

The eel mousse is very simple to make. Cut the eel into pieces and combine it in a saucepan with 80 ml (1/3 cup) cream. Heat the cream, but do not allow it to come to a boil.

Use an immersion blender to change this into eel mousse.

Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to taste.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt (be careful as smoked eel is already quite salty) and freshly ground white pepper.

Roughly chop the hazelnuts, and toast them at 180C/350F in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Transfer the eel mousse and the celeriac puree into piping bags. Everything up to this point can be prepared in advance. Reheat the piping bags if needed by submerging them in hot water for half an hour.

To serve, use the piping bags to dispense first eel mousse and then celeriac puree into a tumbler. Garnish with the hazelnuts, and serve with a small spoon.

Wine pairing

We had this with a barrel-fermented Friulano from 2008, i.e. with several years of bottle aging, and it was a very good pairing. This amuse bouche works well with a complex full-bodied white that is both creamy and earthy.

Flashback

DSC07479

More hazelnuts in today’s flashback, because it’s a Hazelnut Mocha Meringue Torte!

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9 thoughts on “Smoked Eel and Caramelized Celeriac Mousse with Hazelnuts

  1. This must be one of the most unusual dishes I have ever encountered! Being lost without smoked eel since I was a baby *smile* it has to be attempted soonest! Both celeriac and eel having quite strong and definite flavours, I can’t wait to have this on my tastebuds . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love smoked eel, but never tried this with celeric, but you right. Celeric is very similar with horseradish, so it could be very delicious 🙂 Thank you for inspiration. And wine suggestion is perfect!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Celeriac similar to horseradish? There is mustard oil in horseradish that gives it a distinct flavor, which is not present in celeriac. So I’m not sure I understand what you mean.

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      • Aha, hm. Didn’t know we cannot breed them in captivity. Smart eels. I had something called Gulas in Spain, it was on the menu as baby eel, happily i discovered it’s like eel surimi, so no guilt there after all. On the topic of alternatives for foie gras – – I guess sweetbreads are totally acceptable and they are also very tasty….I was going to say avocado isn’t bad either as a vegetarian option, but of course, considering the impact of monoculture and the amount of water they need and transport ecology also not a good choice. Apart from ethical choices there is also ecology.. Seeing as we are located in an area where the winter’s diet would be dictated by seasonality: cabbage, cabbage, potato, leek, pumpkin, stored apples, cheese, milk and cabbage I guess the options are either to 1) move to Southern Italy, they eat pretty well all year round, although Puglia winter cuisine also isn’t to die for 2) suck it up 3) eat food that has been transported.

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