Tuesday 4 March 2014

parsley root




We are all familiar with parsley, but less so with parsley root. Though used widely in Central and Eastern Europe, it is far less common in North America. Thankfully, I have little trouble finding it in Toronto, phew. 

I took for granted that this type of root vegetable is grown primarily for its root and not its leaves like conventional parsley is. I can recall a time when I was living in Auckland and I was really missing using parsley root in my cooking so my dear and well-meaning father in-law dug up his own garden parsley, roots and all, and brought over a bag-full of tangled spindly roots for me to cook up. I took one look at them and thought How the hell am I going to cook with these?  But given my obstinate temperament and sheer determination to make something out of nothing, I began to somehow peel them. Unsurprisingly, it was nearly impossible. I came out thinking that they just don’t have proper parsley over there. I was wrong, they just don’t have this variety of parsley root. 

At first glance, parsley root (or the Hamburg root parsley) looks like parsnip but it tastes quite different from it. It has a nuttier sweeter flavour and can be used in a variety of ways. I use it in stocks quite often, but you can also make parsley root chips, grate it raw into a salad, or purée it like I did in this post. I find the delicate taste and creamy texture of parsley root goes very well with white fish so in this post I am pairing parsley root with wild yellow perch fillets. This makes for a delicate and elegant flavour combination you will surely love.


Makes 4 portions

2 large parsley roots or 4 small ones, peeled and cubed
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
Milk, enough to cover 
8 perch fillets
1 ½ Tbs butter
1 ½ Tbs sunflower oil
1 Tbs olive oil
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin long strips
1 zucchini, sliced into ribbons with vegetable peeler
Salt and pepper


  1. Place the cubed parsley root and potatoes into a medium pot and cover with enough milk to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Let simmer until liquid is reduced and parsley root and potatoes are soft and tender. Season with salt, then purée in a blender until smooth and silky.
  2. In a pan, heat up olive oil on medium, add the capsicum and sauté for 30 seconds then add the zucchini ribbons and continue to sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper, then take off the heat.
  3. Run the perch fillets under cold water then pat dry with paper towel. Season skin with salt and pepper so that the skin will be nice and crispy. In a large pan, heat up the sunflower oil on medium high then add the butter. As soon as it begins to bubble, place your perch fillets skin side down into the pan. The instant you've placed your fillets on the pan, weigh them down with another smaller pan so they don’t curl up. I used my cast iron trivet. Fry for 1 minute, check that skin is crispy. Turn and cook for another 45 seconds. If your fillets are bigger cook longer on each side.
  4. Make a round flat pillow with your parsley root pure, set the sautéed vegetables on top of purée, then top with the beautiful and delicate perch fillets. Make sure you pour that lovely buttery sauce over your fillets, yum.

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