Good fishing conditions last week have resulted in improved South Coast landings, with prices coming down on black bream, brill, conger eel, Dover sole (pictured), scallops, squid and hake. Supplies of line-caught wild sea bass, haddock and Scottish mussels are good, while salmon is readily available in all sizes. Lobster is in short supply and expensive, and catches of UK monkfish are still low. Further afield, best-quality yellowfin tuna and red snapper are extremely well priced.
Source: M&J Seafood 01296 588221 www.mjseafoods.com
New-crop Jerusalem artichokes are now plentiful and reasonably priced, but supplies of globe artichokes are limited and prices are on the high side. The Italian wild trevise, or tardivo, season is just under way and popular "beard of the monk", or wild chicory (pictured), will start shortly. Leafy clementines from Italy are lovely again - sweet, seedless and easily peeled, with thin skins and very little pith. Valencian satsumas are also worth buying. Generally, soft fruit prices are on the rise, with berries now air-freighted from Chile, the USA, Argentina and Australia - but cranberries are in abundance and prices are reasonable.
Source: Chef's Connection 020 7627 4809 www.chefs-connection.com
Scottish beef is now in prime season - rich and full of flavour after a summer on rich grass. Free-range pork is also recommended as a high-quality option. Game is now in season and offers first-class quality at great value for money. Imported beef, fresh pork and poultry are in ample supply, while the best British lamb is excellent but becoming more difficult to source.
Source: Aubrey Allen 024 7642 2222 www.aubreyallen.co.uk
...and how to use them...
Grilled fillet of salmon on a leek and ginger potato cake, casserole of mussels, smoked bacon and wild mushrooms
2 x 140g salmon fillets
4cm ginger, peeled
2 thin rashers smoked bacon
50g plum tomatoes
100g mixed mushrooms
100ml olive oil
50g red onion
25ml white wine
100ml fish stock
20g celery, diced
Sprig of thyme
Peel and boil potatoes for the mash. Cut salmon to size, lightly flour, season and score crisscross-style. Refrigerate.
Finely shred leeks and wash. Grate ginger and sweat off in a little butter. Mash the potatoes with butter, add the ginger and leek, season to taste, shape and chill. Prepare and wash mushrooms, slice. Wash mussels. Blanch and skin tomatoes for concass‚. Cut bacon.
Meanwhile, zest limes and blanch. Make a dressing with juice, 50ml olive oil and zest.
Slice courgette and saut‚.
Place salmon under a hot grill for a few minutes and then lower temperature. Shallow-fry potato cakes in olive oil, turn and finish in the oven.
Place mussels in hot pan with mirepoix, wine and stock. Grill bacon. Saut‚ mushrooms. Remove mussels from shells and add to mushrooms and bacon. Warm and season dressing.
To finish, alternate courgette and bacon in a circle in the centre of the plate, place potato cake on top of this and then the grilled salmon. Arrange the mussels, mushroom and bacon casserole with some concass‚ around this. Drizzle salmon with the warm dressing and also around plate and over the casserole.
Steve Wade is head chef at Hinxton Hall, the Wellcome Trust, Cambridge, and was recently crowned Avenance Chef of the Year 2004
Featured video - for more, visit Caterer and Hotelkeeper’s YouTube channel >>