The biggest highlight from my trip to Copenhagen was getting to shoot a video on the farm and in the kitchen of Restaurant Relae, an establishment that is more than a little focused on sustainability. I learned many things (that you will also learn in the forthcoming video), including how to make a silky, crazy flavorful, incidentally vegan sauce out of root vegetables and vinegar.
The precise nature of restaurant style plating means that some portions of a vegetable don’t make it onto the plate for aesthetic reasons. Instead of scrapping them, executive chef Jonathan Tam repurposes them into another delicious component.
In the case of a beautifully layered celery root dish, he takes the less shapely odds and ends, then chars them and blends them with pear vinegar to make a mind-blowingly balanced sauce.
I could not find pear vinegar at either of my neighbourhood grocery stores, so I wasn’t able to replicate chef Tam’s sauce exactly, but I was able to apply this method to some sad-looking carrots and parsnips I had languishing in the fridge.
Since I ended up using the much tarter sherry vinegar, I incorporated a little soy sauce to help balance everything out; you may not need that if you use a sweeter vinegar, so taste and adjust to your liking. To make this roasty-toasty, bold and tangy sauce, you will need:
- 500g of root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips or celery root, cut into 3cm chunks
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup sherry vinegar (or another favourite vinegar of yours)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
Pre-heat your oven to 200C, and toss the vegetables with the olive oil in a big bowl to coat. Season with salt and toss once more. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until the vegetables are a deep, dark, almost burnt colour, with super soft insides.
Let them cool for about five minutes, then add them to a high-powered blender, along with the water and vinegar. Blend until smooth, scraping down the sides of the blender as needed, then taste and adjust by adding soy sauce or more water (to thin it out) if needed. (If you don’t have a high-powered blender, you can use an immersion blender and run the sauce through a food mill.)
Serve with seared meats, brown-butter-basted vegetables, or any bold dish you think would benefit from a silky, bittersweet and sour sauce.