Thursday, January 28, 2010

Celery Syrup for celery&nori

I mentioned before how much I enjoyed the celery&nori I had at Momofuku ssäm bar, and I decided to try to recreate it at home.  The key ingredient I needed to figure out was the celery syrup.  The first one I tried was a recipe I remembered seeing on Serious Eats in this post about the Celery Julep.  Here is the procedure from that post to make the syrup:
"Fresh" Celery Syrup
  • 10 ounces celery (about 4 large ribs)
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Chop the celery into pieces, put them in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of the sugar, the celery seeds, and the salt, and process until the celery is a loose puree. Pass the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing the pulp to extract as much flavor as possible. You should have about 1/3 cup (ed.-I got a bit more).  Add the celery juice and the remaining sugar to a small saucepan, and warm the mixture over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves. You should have about 1 cup celery syrup. (Covered with plastic wrap, the syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.)
This was good stuff, but not quite right for the drink.  I think it needs something more clear and with less of the fresh celery flavor and less green color.  I've got some other ideas to make use of this which I think will be great, however.

To find the right syrup for this drink, I then turned to the always sage Alton Brown (check out his excellent new book, Good Eats: The Early Years, with recipes from first 80 episodes of Good Eats!).
AB's Celery Seed Syrup
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground celery seed
Place the sugar and the water into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir to combine. Continue to stir frequently until all of the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the celery seed, cover and allow to steep for 1 hour. Strain though a fine mesh strainer into a heat-proof container and place in the refrigerator, uncovered until completely cool. Place in an airtight container and store for up to 6 months.
This was designed to be added to soda water to make a homemade version of Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda, but I hijacked it for my own nefarious needs.  This is the one I think works best for the celery&nori.  Also note this is a 2:1 simple syrup, where the first was closer to 1:1.

I then had to infuse the Applejack with the nori.  I actually chose to go with the Laird's Bottled in Bond Straight Apple Brandy, because why not?  As a test, I stuck a sheet of nori in 10 oz or so of the Laird's, and tasted it after 40 minutes or so.  At this point is had WAY too much nori flavor and wasn't good at all.  I tried diluting it 2:1 with uninfused Laird's, and it was better, but still way too strong.  I then took an oz of the diluted stuff and diluted it 2:1 again with another oz of fresh Laird's, and that did the trick.  I took this now 4:1 dilution of my initial infusion to make:
celery&nori (old fashioned)
  • 2 oz nori-infused Laird's BiB Straight Apple Brandy
  • ¼ oz AB's Celery Seed Syrup
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
stir and strain into DOF glass
I think this made a serviceable reproduction of the original, and in any case is damn good.


  1. Do you stir with ice?

  2. Gonna try it tonite--unfortunately, no celery bitters available anywhere around here--I'll have to use Peychauds (I don't have the patience to order celery bitters online.) I brewed a half a hand-roll size sheet of nori with about 6 oz Lairds for 30 minutes. Smells good--not too strong.

    I have used Alton Brown's celery syrup mixed with ginger beer, white rum and a squirt of lime to make a celery mojito --wonderful!

    Thanks for the recipe


  3. Excuse me, I mean a Stormy Celery.....

  4. Coming late to this drink, but which celery bitters do you recommend, or do you remember which he used? Celery bitters in particular vary so much, this is one of the times when I think the brand is a fundamental concern. Sadly, the recipe on Food & Wine doesn't specify one.

  5. Not sure what they used, but I like the Scrappy's Celery Bitters (their Cardamom is fantastic as well):


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