Good weather conditions are expected all week so there should be good supplies from Iceland, the Faroes and the South Coast. Prices should drop on coley (right), haddock and plaice – which are beginning to fatten up a bit now – from Iceland and the Faroes, and on pollack, Dover soles, lemon soles and grey mullet from the South Coast.
There will also be plenty of sardines, wytch soles, whiting and mackerel on the market, but prices on John Dory, bream, cod and herring are set to rise. Diver-caught scallops from Norway are also available.
Purple sprouting broccoli has been fantastic of late and normally lasts until May. However, if the weather remains dry, the plants will flower and run to seed early.
Look out over the coming weeks for the ever-popular English asparagus. The short 6-8 week season is highly anticipated and the crop very popular. Broad beans are also now plentiful.
French breakfast-bunched radishes are outstanding this month. They are delicious with butter and sea salt.
The stone fruit situation is still poor. No cherries or apricots are available and the quality of nectarines and peaches has been inconsistent. Plums, however, remain good – mainly from South Africa. Blood oranges are beginning to go past their seasonal best, but European melons are now arriving again, and they will obviously improve in flavour with the weather.
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Pork is costing a little more at the moment due to a slight shortage on the market – but it is still the best-value meat around.
The waiting game is on for the best new-season English lamb. It is available in small quantities, but we haven’t had enough sun for it to reach its best. Be patient. Older lamb (pictured) has got great flavour and can be tender, but is more difficult to obtain.
Chicken of all types is getting dearer but there is still a great deal of imported in the country. It is probably about a quarter of the price of the best free-range.
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. . . and how to use them
A traditional Algerian dish similar to hummus but made with fresh, young, shelled broad beans. It is great served with warm pitta breads and freshly cut lemon wedges.
600g young broad beans (shelled weight)
2 small cloves crushed garlic
1 small green chilli, finely chopped
1tsp cumin seeds, pounded
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Blanch the beans in plenty of boiling salted water. Refresh them immediately when cooked. Remove the beans’ outer skins and discard.
In a food processor blend the shelled beans with the garlic, chilli, paprika, cumin and lemon juice until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while continuing to blend. Season to taste.
Stuart Busby, Chef’s Connection, New Covent Garden, London