Food File

31 January 2005 by
Food File

Fish

The tsunami has affected fishing in the Indian Ocean, although some tuna is available from around the Maldives. Other fish from the area, like sword and marlin, should be covered by supplies from South America.

Closer to home, there is even less fish on the market, with cod of all sizes scarce because of terrible fishing conditions. Earlier in the week Icelandic container fish was scarce and is still short. There is a possibility of flown-in fillets. Haddock and lemons will also be expensive but should be available all week. UK landings of plaice will also be minimal, pushing prices up.

Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com

Fresh produce

The market was looking surprisingly well stocked after the holiday break, with plenty of good fruit available. Seville oranges are back, ready to be turned into marmalade (see recipe), but for eating oranges it is the Greek supply which is eclipsing its Spanish rival in terms of sweet and zingy flavour.

Peruvian figs are also looking good, longer than the Brazilian kind but proving to have better flavour at the moment. Cape fruit is also plentiful, including peaches and apricots, and don't forget English apples, such as Cox's orange pippin.

There are also lots of good Italian plum tomatoes on the market, with the elongated variety - usually used for canning - having a very good flavour.

On the root veg front there are no shortages, with good prices across the board. There are also plenty of very good cauliflowers on the market. Cavolo nero is in shorter supply.

Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com

Meat

Scotch beef is still wonderful and in good supply - loins and fillets are pricey, but good. There is, though, a large supply of imported beef of varying qualities with a competitive price because of the strength of the pound.

Wonderful free-range and farm-assured pork is reasonably priced and in good supply. Quality English lamb is now increasingly difficult to source, and the price is rising. Imported lamb is plentiful and well priced, with the best arriving from New Zealand.

Wild venison and pheasant are in excellent supply, although other game is rare.

Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallen.co.uk

Marmalade

Ingredients
900g Seville oranges

2 medium-sized loose-skinned lemons

1 litre water

1.8kg preserving sugar

100ml single malt Irish whiskey

4-6 fresh cardamoms

Method

Wash the oranges and lemons well and peel them with a knife, leaving the pith intact. Cut the peel into 4mm strips, making sure they are all equal in size. Chop the flesh roughly and add it to the Seville strips.

Keep the pips in a separate bowl and boil the water, adding 400ml of it to the pips. Add the remaining boiling water to the fruit pieces and cardamoms, cover the bowl with Clingfilm and leave at room temperature overnight.

Sieve the pips preparation onto the strips preparation - keep pouring the liquid over the pips a few times to ensure the pectin is thoroughly collected, then discard the pips. Simmer the flesh in a thick-bottomed pan for 2½ hours until the peel is soft.

Warm the sugar in a pan, without colouring, and stir it into the Seville mix until the sugar is dissolved. Boil it gently for 20 minutes. Then add the malt whiskey and roll boil it for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (The longer you boil this preparation, the darker the colour.)

To see if the marmalade will set, pour a small spoonful of the preparation onto the back of a cold plate. Leave for a few minutes and, if it wrinkles, then it's ready. Leave the marmalade to rest and remove any impurities or froth from the top with a dessert spoon. Pour this preparation into a sterilised Kilner jar and steam for two minutes, then leave to cool.

We never put this preparation into the fridge as it always keeps better in the larder.

  • Ian Burch, head pastry chef, the Bentley Kempinski hotel, London
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