Grouse, Plums, Turbot

14 August 2008 by


Tuesday - the Glorious Twelfth of August - welcomed in the start of the grouse season, and the real start of autumn game. And there's good news! It looks as if this year will, like last, be a bumper grouse season.

A mild spring and wet summer means there are plenty of insects around for the birds and the heather is in good condition. So expect the nose-bleed-silly, early season prices of £20 per bird to drop quickly.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707


Large plaice is in excellent condition and a must at present, available at around £7.50 per kg. Line-caught mackerel and pollack are in good number, and sand eels are available again.

Scottish langoustines and scallops are available all week, and there have been good landings of Faroese cod, halibut and haddock.

Lobsters are climbing in price as demand from the Continent rises, while crab, wild salmon and sea trout (£12.90 per kg) are available. However, the last two will be around for only two or three more weeks, so make use of them now.

There are good supplies of farmed durard and sea bass coming from the Continent, a viable substitute for more expensive wild fish.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707

Fresh Produce

English plums are the in-season fruit this week. The first few Victorias have already arrived. They were a little sharp and under-ripe, but should have improved by the end of the week.

English Discovery apples have become more aromatic, and a few are beginning to develop the pink flesh under the skin that is a sign of ripeness.

There's a great selection of beans around at the moment. English bobby beans and helda beans are a good choice, as are the excellent runner beans now available.Late-crop home-produced broad beans are looking and tasting good, too. If you want something a bit more exotic, why not try cream, pink and purple-marbled borlotti beans?

The arrival of English sweet corn signifies that, sadly, we are nearing the end of summer.

Source: 4°C - 020 8558 9708 -

Seasonal recipe

Sea trout with crab and ginger mousse, wrapped in lettuce with carrot and lemon grass sauce

Ingredients (Serves four)

11/2 chicken breasts, diced
1 egg white
250ml double cream
25g fresh ginger, peeled
150g picked white crab meat
100g chicken mousse
10 coriander leaves, finely shredded
Rind of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 round butterhead lettuce
4 portions boneless, skinless wild sea trout, 120g each
6 stalks lemon grass
300g new-season carrots, peeled and finely sliced
75g butter, diced
2 star anise
1 litre white chicken stock
200ml double cream
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Coriander leaves, to garnish


For the chicken mousse, place the diced chicken breasts in a chilled blender bowl and blend until very smooth. Add the egg white slowly, then add two-thirds of the cream while the blender is running. Add 1tbs of salt and the remaining cream and blend until the mousse is a light consistency. Place in a bowl and reserve.

Dice the ginger as finely as possible, place in a small saucepan, cover with cold salted water and boil. Drain and repeat the process about six times until the ginger is soft. Dry on kitchen paper.

Place the crab meat in a large bowl and add the chicken mousse, coriander leaves and ginger. Season with salt, pepper and lemon rind, cover with clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add 1tbs salt and plunge eight large lettuce leaves in for a few seconds. Remove and quickly place into iced water, drain when cool and dry on kitchen paper.

On a sheet of clingfilm, lay two large lettuce leaves end-to-end to create one large leaf. Sit a piece of fish in the centre of the leaves and spoon one-quarter of the mousse-crab mix on top of the fish with the softened ginger. Fold over the lettuce to create a parcel, using the clingfilm to get a tight seal. Repeat to make four parcels and reserve in the fridge.

To make the carrot purée, bruise the lemon grass with the back of a chopping knife and chop into small pieces. In a large, covered pan, sweat the carrots with the butter, lemon grass and star anise for 10-15 minutes without letting them colour. When the carrots are soft, add the stock, reduce by half, add the cream and again reduce by half. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve twice. Season with salt, lemon juice and sugar, if necessary.

Place the fish in the steamer and cook for 6-7 minutes, then leave to sit for a further minute. To serve, reheat the carrot purée and spoon on to each plate. Cut each piece of fish in half widthways and arrange on top of the carrot purée. Dress each dish with some coriander leaves.

Aiden Byrne, head chef, the Grill at the Dorchester - taken from his book Made in Great Britain, to be published by New Holland Publishers on 16 September

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