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Scallops, Girolles, Truffles

31 July 2008 by

Fresh produce

Kentish strawberries are back on form after a blip in the summer sun, and if the weather stays nice we'll be enjoying them until October. Woodland strawberries are also in great condition.

Girolles from Scotland are coming down in price but are the only wild mushrooms from the UK or abroad worth using. Fresh borlotti beans are arriving from Italy, and baby artichokes are coming down in price. Other good buys are fresh almonds from France, baby plum tomatoes from Sicily, samphire from the UK and cherries from France.

Purple potatoes are returning to the market, while summer truffles continue to fall in price.

Source: Wild Harvest - 020 7498 5397 - www.wildharvestuk.com

Fish

Landings have been very positive these past few weeks, with large line-caught bass, large pollack and excellent sardines all in abundance, and large turbot sensibly priced. A few more red mullet have been appearing, and hake is reasonable priced at £6.50 per kg for 2-3kg fish.

Wild salmon are readily available, but sea trout are proving scarcer. Langoustines, diver-caught scallops and diver-caught razor clams are all coming down from Scotland, while squid is readily available at about £9.50 per kg. Sand eels and whitebait have proved hard to land because of the amount of weed in rivers, and mussels haven't been in great shape over the past week because of high temperatures.

Live and smoked eels are arriving from Norfolk, and we are now at the height of the season for live crayfish. There are good large cod, halibut and haddock arriving from Norway and Iceland.

Source: Chef Direct - 01275 474707 - www.chefclubdirect.co.uk

Meat

With two weeks to go until the Glorious Twelfth there's not much news to report from the meat industry. The upheaval of the first half of the year has evened out now, and there have been very few market fluctuations of late.

Source: Birtwistle Butchers - 0161-728 3340 - www.birtwistlebutchers.co.uk

Seasonal recipe

Pan-fried salmon with a warm salad of beetroot, potato, black olives and basil pistou

Ingredients (Serves two)

For the basil pistou 1 bunch basil
1 clove garlic
100ml extra virgin olive oil
50g pine kernels

For the remaining dish 2 large beetroots, cooked
60g pitted black olives
80g salad potatoes, precooked
2tbs olive oil
2 x 150g middle cut of salmon
Salt and pepper
5g butter
20g cultivated dandelion leaves
30g beetroot leaves (or mixed salad)

Method

For the pistou, pick the basil leaves away from the stalks and blanch in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Take out and refresh. Squeeze the excess water from the basil and place in a blender. Crush the garlic and add to the basil with the oil and pine kernels. Blend all together for one minute and set aside.

Chop the beetroot and the black olives. Cut the potatoes into quarters. Reserve, but keep separate.

Take a hot non-stick pan and add the oil. Sear the salmon, and as it starts to cook baste continuously with the oil. The fish will take about four minutes to cook like this. Season and remove the fish.

Add the vegetable mix to the pan in its place. Toss with the butter for about two minutes. Spoon out on to kitchen paper to take away the excess fat. Spread some of the pistou on the base of the plate. Add the vegetable mix with the cultivated dandelion leaves (wild leaves are too bitter at this time of year) and beetroot leaves on top. Place the fish on top of the whole lot and serve.

Lee Bennett, head chef, Le Pont de la Tour, London

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