Tag Archives: recipes

Catch of the Day, Mackerel


Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

  • Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Best UK Season Is; May, June, July, August, September, October. With its shining, silver belly, and sparkling blue-grey stripes, the mackerel is a remarkable fish, almost flamboyant.

A great summertime favourite in Devon and Cornwall, Tony the head barman at the Bowd Inn used to go beach casting in Sidmouth in his time off and brought freshly caught mackerel back almost daily, Mmm Happy days.

Did you know that the mackerel is Britain’s only bona fide tropical inshore species, a close relative of the tuna so why not use it instead of Tuna for some of your recipes?

Mackerel isn’t a daintily flavoured fish and its intensity doesn’t always offer itself well to a straightforward ‘lemon and herbs’ pairing. Nonetheless given the right care, it is an incredibly moist, aromatic fish that makes a reasonably priced and very nourishing meal.

The mackerel is sea fish that swims in extremely great shoals, the species “Scomber scombrus” is a common fish in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, a number of other varieties are found in the Indo-Pacific and are an essential food source in Thailand and the Philippines.

Mackerel has been a dependably popular fish throughout European history the Romans used mackerel to make garum, a fermented fish sauce similar to those indispensable to Thai and Vietnamese cooking today.

Records show that the mackerel has been extensively consumed in the United Kingdom for hundreds of years, according to his diary; Samuel Pepys breakfasted on mackerel on 30th May 1660 and in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) features the recipe Fennel Sauce for Mackerel.

Health professionals advocate eating at least one serving of oily fish, such as mackerel, each week, Mackerel is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12.

I myself believe that Mackerel is a frequently under valued fish, you know we are very lucky in this country to be surrounded by the sea, and have access to a truly plentiful supply of this species and with careful management of this fishery there’s no reason this shouldn’t keep on being so.
In fact thousands of tonnes of Mackerel are landed in British ports every year and what makes it even better to know is that Mackerel is fished in a controlled and sustainable way.
Plus and this is a big plus it’s flavoursome, inexpensive and has immense health benefits (rich in Omega 3s), just what the doctor ordered really!

Buying Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Look for mackerel with glossy bodies and brilliant eyes. They should have a firm feeling and be rigid; fresh mackerel won’t droop if held horizontally by the head, the freshest fish are liable to be found in good fishmongers or markets, subsequent to buying your mackerel be sure to keep it cool until you get home, when shopping for fish fresh or frozen we always use an insulated bag with 2 or 3 of those ice inserts.

Storing Catch of the Day, Mackerel

Oily fish go off faster than white fish and mackerel is best eaten on the day you buy it or if kept chilled the day after, you can also freeze it very successfully. Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container. Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.

If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Catch of the Day, Mackerel

  • Ask your fishmonger to gut the fish, and then when you have got it back home wash under cold running water and pat dry before cooking.
  • Grilling (Broiling), Baking, Barbecuing, or Pan Frying are superb cooking methods we like ours simply Baked or Pan-Fried.
  • To check if your Mackerel is cooked, just slit the fish at it’s thickest part with a small knife, the flesh should appear just opaque but still moist.
  • Owing to mackerel’s richness, cream or butter based sauces are best avoided.
  • Spices work well, as does matching with something sharp, Gooseberry or Rhubarb sauces are traditional accompaniments, or you could try cooking it with other citrus flavours such as grapefruit or oranges.

Try my recipe and Others on MyDish

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Catch of the Day, Black Bream, Porgy, or Sea Bream


The black bream or as its known down in the West country the Porgy or Sea Bream is a splendid looking fish with a bright charcoal grey/silvery skin

Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

  • Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

Bream, Black, Porgy, or Sea Bream

The black bream or as its known down in the West country the Porgy or Sea Bream is a splendid looking fish with a bright charcoal grey/silvery skin with allusions of pink and gold in colour with a sweet solid flesh the sweetness comes from it’s diet which is for the most part small shellfish.

It is usually available all year round but when caught close to British shores between the summer months of June to September is when it is at its peak, and is mouth-watering tasty when cooked and eaten whole after being stuffed and then baked, or as fillets, when talking with other chef’s a lot of them recommend this fish and think it very undervalued.

Buying Bream, Black, Porgy, or Sea Bream

With its pink opaque flesh, the attractiveness of Black Bream continues to grow it has a slightly sweeter taste to its alternative the Sea Bass, and can be cooked in the same way as Bass and other varieties of Bream.

Usually sold whole or as fillets, ask your fishmonger to remove the scales for you as these are rather tough.

You can substitute sea bream for red snapper or sea bass if you can’t find it and please try to go for Black bream caught with Rod and Line or Gillnet as a more sustainable option.

The Cornish, North Wales and Sussex Sea fisheries committees have the finest supervision for black bream and are at present the most sustainable locations to source from.

Storing Bream, Black, Porgy, or Sea Bream

Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.

Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.

If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Bream, Black, Porgy, or Sea Bream

Prepare and cook as for Sea Bass, we like to cook the fillets in the Spanish way in a moderate oven on a bed of thinly sliced potatoes, onion, and garlic and splashed with white wine and lots of olive oil.

Black Bream Fillets

Catch of the Day, Plaice


Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

  • Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

Catch of the Day, Plaice

The unassuming plaice has been popular in the UK for a long time, and even though it is for the most part ignored in higher end cookery, it is hardly ever on menus of the leading restaurants.

This maybe due to its historical links as food for the poor, or because of the suggestion of bland deep fried breaded plaice served in pubs and motorway service stations across the country.

In our opinion plaice is a superb fish possessing a fine, moist texture and subtle but distinct taste and cooked the right way it makes a simple, healthy, economical, and absolutely yummy lunch or supper.

Plaice is available throughout the year though the quality varies throughout the year.

From summer through to midwinter outside the spawning season, it is by and large much fleshier and tastier.

During the Victorian era, plaice was plentiful and cheap and up to 30 million plaice were sold each year at Billingsgate Market plus along with herring was a mainstay of the diet of London’s poorest inhabitants.

Plaice is well-liked all over Europe, with Britain and Denmark being the chief consumers, followed by Sweden, France, and Spain.

Buying Plaice

Look for bright orange spots and clear protruding eyes these are the signs of fresh plaice.

Storing Plaice

Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.

When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.

Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.

If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Plaice

Plaice is a very versatile fish that reacts perfectly to grilling, baking, poaching, and frying and you can always use it instead of soles such as Lemon, Megrim, and Witch.

For the best flavour, cook plaice on the bone.

Our favourite quick way to cook it is to fillet it (your fishmonger will do this) and then lightly flour the fillets and fry them for a short time on each side in a little oil and serve with a pat of garlic butter, prepared by mixing butter with a little crushed garlic and chopped parsley it’s so tasty.

Catch of the Day, John Dory (St. Peter’s Fish)


Bloomin Ugly Sod

Cooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will serve up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants. It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer. The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.

Maureen and I well, we just like fish and shellfish for its handiness, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!

Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

  • White Fish, including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish
  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

  • Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.
  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are; Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.

Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.

We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins; minerals, and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.

However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of their to-do list.

Anyway, enough of all that let’s get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;

John Dory, (St. Peter’s Fish) 

I think that this is one of the most excellent tasting fish in the sea, John Dory is called St Peter’s fish in many languages, as St Peter was supposed to have taken hold of it, leaving the impression of his fingers on the fish’s side, as you can see in the photo’s. But this legend is also shared with the haddock!
The best season for John Dory is from September to June with June and August being the spawning season May is just about the best month for the sweetest plumpest fish.
John Dory is generally caught as by-catch in trawls so it is always best to avoid the immature fish (less than 25 to 35cm). There are some fishermen who do specifically target John Dory “The Crystal Sea” is one of them probably the best in British waters.

The label John Dory is believed to have come from the French “Jaune Dorée”, yellow and gold, and that is an acceptable description of its skin colours.

While you can buy whole John Dory cleaned with the head on we prefer to buy the fillets of larger fish so that they are more sustainable.

I have to say though that the John Dory, is not an appealing fish, it has no scales and is quite ugly however the white, boneless, meaty flesh is firm, sweet and very flavoursome and it can be cooked in a variety of ways: grill, sauté or poach it.
It’s well-liked by chefs because it goes well with a wide range of ingredients and flavourings and the bones from its head make an excellent stock.

I think that if you are partial to sole, brill, and turbot then you’ll like John Dory.

These characteristic fish are common in northern waters and may be found in estuaries and harbours, from the shoreline down to depths of about 150m, and they frequently reach sizes in excess of half a metre in length.

Buying John Dory, (St. Peter’s Fish)

Best British Season Is;
• April to May is when John Dory is really at its plumpest and sweetest.
• Avoid it in June to August that is when it is Breeding/Spawning.
• September to March is when it is at is most available.

  • John Dory is sold mainly as fillets but can be bought whole.
  • When buying whole, look for bright skin, bulging eyes, firm flesh, and a pleasant sea smell.
  • Fillets should also be glistening with no brown markings, have a pleasing sea smell, and not leak water.

Storing John Dory, (St. Peter’s Fish)

  • Put your fish and/or shellfish in the fridge as soon as possible after purchase and use within a day, or freeze for up to three months.
  • When you bring it back from the fishmonger, unwrap, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.
  • Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, store fresh seafood no longer than two days before use, for best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its fresh state.
  • If it’s necessary to freeze the fish, freeze it quickly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking John Dory, (St. Peter’s Fish)

The subtle flavours of John Dory require a strong partner so why not try blending generous amounts of coriander and garlic in a food processor with one part lemon juice to two parts extra virgin olive oil and drizzle the mixture over the pan-fried fillets. Or place half a lemon into the roasting tray, then squeeze it over the roasted fillet before serving the juice will be pleasingly sweet and sticky.

The John Dory’s nice firm flesh does not easily flake apart when it is fried, making it the just what the doctor ordered for that most British of our popular meals, “Fish and Chips”.
Just beat up a light batter, we always use sparkling water for our fish batter but you could use ice-cold beer, add just enough water or beer to the flour for the batter to have the consistency of double cream.

Heat the oil thoroughly, and then deep-fry the batter coated fish until crisp, golden brown and bubbling.

Alternatives to John Dory are; Red Gurnard, Grey Gurnard, Red Mullet and Seabass

Catch of the Day, Sea Trout


Sea Trout-Salmon TroutCooking fish is straightforward, if you just keep to a few basic rules you will be serving up dishes to vie with the best of restaurants.
It is suggested that we eat at least three or more servings of fish a week, since the experts have proved that if you eat more fish you are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer.
The fat in fish is called omega-3, an essential fatty acid which keeps our blood from getting sticky and so reduces the probability of having a stroke.


Maureen and I well, we just like fish and seafood for its versatility, ease of cooking, taste and if it’s good for us well, that’s a bonus!


Fish and seafood is available to buy fresh, frozen, or cured, you can buy it whole, filleted or cut into steaks, your fishmonger or supermarket fish counter should stock a large choice of each of the groups of seafood there are 3 main groups of fish;

White Sea Fish

Including Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Whiting, Pollack, Pout (Pouting. Bib), Saithe (Coley), Hake, Monkfish, Dover Sole, Lemon Sole, Megrim, Witch, Brill, Turbot, Halibut, Dogfish, Skates, Rays, John Dory, Bass, Ling, Catfish, and Redfish

  • White fish are divided into two types round and flat.
  • Large round white fish such as Cod and Coley are usually sold in steaks, fillets, or cutlets.
  • The small round species such as Whiting and Haddock are usually sold in fillets.
  • With flat fish, the larger species such as Halibut and Turbot are sold whole in fillets and as steaks
  • Smaller flat fish like Plaice and Sole are usually sold whole, trimmed, or filleted.

Oil Rich Fish

Including Herring, Mackerel, Pilchard, Sprat, Horse Mackerel, Whitebait, Tuna.

  • Oil-rich fish such as Herring and Mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a lowering effect on blood fats; this decreases the chance of blood vessels clogging up with cholesterol.
  • Oil-rich fish is also a good source of vitamins A and D.

Fresh Water Fish

Including Salmon, Trout, Perch, Bass, Bream, Pike, Arctic Char

Then there are the;

Shellfish (Molluscs and Crustaceans)

Including Clams, Cockles, Whelks, Periwinkles, Mussel, Oyster, Lobster, Crab, prawns, Crayfish, Scallops, Sea Urchins, Shrimp, Squid, Octopus, Cuttlefish.

You know that you can always ask for help when choosing your fish and shellfish especially if you are not sure how it should be prepared and cooked.
Your fishmonger should be happy to prepare fresh fish for you in exactly the way you want, if what you want is not available, species of the same type can always be substituted and once again a good fishmonger can help you out.
We should be eating at least two servings of fish a week including one of oily fish. Fish and shellfish are excellent sources of a range of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, furthermore oily fish is especially loaded in omega 3 fatty acids.
However if we would like to make sure there are sufficient fish to eat now, and in the future, we must start thinking about the choices we make when we decide which fish we eat and your local fishmonger can also help with that, a good fishmonger will always know where the product he sells comes from and all the fishmongers, fishermen and chefs I know put sustainability at the top of there to-do list.
Anyway, enough of all that lets get to the main point of what we hope will be a weekly or fortnightly part of our blog;


Our Catch of the Day is; Sea Trout

The wild sea trout, or salmon trout, isn’t at all like the low-cost and nondescript farmed trout which is sold in supermarkets and markets country wide.

clip_image001Sea trout is one of the finest fish caught in UK waters, and is available in good fishmongers

 

 

It is available all year round as a farmed fish, but the best months for wild sea trout are March, April, May, June, and the first part of July.

It is a wild fish with pink, tender flesh, more akin to salmon than trout and is wonderful when served with lemon.

The time it spends at sea simply implies that it is more like wild salmon in its colouring, taste and texture while it doesn’t have the extreme prices of wild salmon.

Sea trout are so called because they swim down from their home rivers to the sea to feed and fatten up before returning to the fresh water of the home river to spawn. The end result is a wonderful fish that can be cooked as salmon, either poached in wine with herbs, baked in foil, baked, or pan-fried in butter with capers and served with new potatoes, I like mine with a little anchovy butter and lemon.

If they can be likened to any fish it would the group of fish that includes the brown trout; it is a silvery grey with black or red spots and its pink flesh comes from its diet of shrimps and other crustaceans.

Sea trout is also a good source of omega-3, which is linked with the reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Buying Sea Trout

You can by Wild Sea Trout at some supermarket fish counters although it is more easily to be had from fishmongers and fresh fish market stalls.

A quantity of the most superb sea trout in the UK are to be found in Wales where they are known as sewin

Jon our fishmonger always has it when in season and prides himself on obtaining only the best.

Remember as with all fresh fish, they should be bright-eyed, red-gilled with a refreshing sea tang and a golden bronze sheen to the skin is as a rule a good sign.

Storing Sea Trout

If doable buy your sea trout on the day you plan to cook it, when you get it home unwrap it, and rinse under cold water, pat dry with paper towel and place in an airtight container.

Keep it in the coldest part of the refrigerator for best flavour, texture, and nutritional value, keep fresh seafood no longer than two days before use.

For best quality, it’s best to use fresh seafood in its freshest condition

If it’s you find it necessary to freeze fish, freeze it rapidly and use it as soon as possible.

Preparing and Cooking Sea Trout

It’s not easy to make a terrible dish using good sea trout, ask your fishmonger to gut, clean, and / or fillet your sea trout.

Sea trout can be used as an alternative in any trout or salmon recipe.

My Favourite Recipe for Sea Trout

This recipe for Trout with crayfish and watercress sauce is from the Hairy Bikers I think it is just about the best recipe for this wonderful fish

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May, What’s in Season This Month


Well, I’m late again my apologies to one and all, I did think about not putting a blog up for May as it is so late however one or two have asked for a May blog so here it is.


As the weather gets warmer in May, beautiful British produce can be found in abundance especially large, juicy spears of asparagus which are at their very best and cheap too, when I say asparagus I mean proper English asparagus, not that stuff from Peru or America, which is a bit wishy-washy not that I have anything against overseas asparagus but English is something special and I like the short period in which we can get it, and Jersey royals the new potatoes with attitude are mouth-watering sprinkled with sea salt flakes, black pepper and golden Jersey butter melted and poured over them.


The English asparagus season officially starts on 1st May, but depending on the weather can start as early as mid-April the harvest lasts for approximately 6 weeks, until mid-June. Although asparagus was once only grown in certain areas of the United Kingdom, such as the Vale of Evesham, East Anglia, Kent, and London, it is now grown in most of the United Kingdom. It’s a great accompaniment to seasonal meats and fish, steam, grill or roast it, add it to tarts or blend it into soups no matter which way you cook it you are going to be in for a tasty treat.

British asparagus, with its deep, intricate flavour, is considered by the British, at least to be the best in the world. Its profound, lush flavour is ascribed in large part to Britain’s cool growing conditions. Traditionally only green asparagus has been grown here, but there are several types and varieties, in any case  whether you’re buying tips thin ‘sprue’ asparagus or extra-large ‘jumbo’ spears, always choose stems that are firm and lush, rather than dry and wrinkly.

Avoid any stems that are discoloured, scarred or turning slimy at the tips. If you’re using whole spears, then make sure the buds are tightly rolled. If you’re making soup, though, you could also use the cheaper, loose-tipped spears you sometimes find on market stalls.

Regardless of what you may have read or heard, it’s not necessary to buy an asparagus steamer, nor to tie the asparagus into a bundle and cook it upright in a pan. For the best results, wash the stems thoroughly in a sink full of cold water. Then trim the stalks and, if the lower part of the stem seems tough when sliced and eaten raw, lightly peel the bottom third of the stem. Drop loose spears into a pan of boiling water and cook until just tender.

The cooking time varies according to the thickness of the stems but ranges between 3 to 5 minutes; the Roman’s use to have a saying similar to “In a New York Minute” it was “Quick as Asparagus”. Once it’s cooked, drain, and pat dry on kitchen paper. If you’re serving it cold, you’ll get the best flavour if, rather than cooling under the cold tap, you spread the hot asparagus out to cool on some kitchen paper.

Conventionally coordinated with hollandaise sauce, asparagus picked just a day or so ago (try your nearest farmers’ market) needs no messing with. Enjoy it with a mizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper and perhaps a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.

Earliest records of asparagus cultivation trace it back to Greece some 2,500 years ago. The Greeks believed that asparagus possessed medicinal properties and recommended it as a cure for toothaches. It was highly prized by the Romans who grew it in high-walled courtyards. Asparagus has been grown in England since the sixteenth century (it is not widely cultivated anywhere else in the UK) and during the nineteenth century it caught on in North America and China

Asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable. It also a source of fibre, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione, a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties

BUYING

Look for firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily tenderer; in fact thicker specimens are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume.

STORING

Once picked, asparagus rapidly loses flavour and tenderness, so it really is worth eating it on the day you buy it. If that isn’t possible, store asparagus in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bottom of the stalks and you can get away with keeping it for a couple of days.

PREPARING AND COOKING

Wash in cold water and remove the bottom ends of the stalks (with fresh asparagus they will snap off cleanly). Boil or steam quickly until just tender, around 4 to 7 minutes depending on thickness.


For us (Maureen and meself) May is the start of our summer and as the days get longer and warmer we look forward to barbeques, picnics and lunches in the garden and the parks here in London, we always look forward to the new season asparagus delicious served cold with a nice tasty vinaigrette or a velvety, opulent Hollandaise sauce, we take pleasure in the delicate and unsophisticated texture of sea trout lightly poached in white wine with herbs or pan-fried with butter, lemon and capers we also  look forward to the new season parsley, carrots, raspberries and the first of the cherries.

I remember when we were at The Whitewell Hotel, The Willow Tree Restaurant and The Great Tree Hotel we always competed with other hotels and restaurants who would be the first to serve the first of British asparagus, strawberries and jersey royal potatoes, at Whitewell we almost always won and the same can be said for the Willow Tree but down in Devon it was always a real competition with Gidleigh Park and I am miserable to say they won more than we did, however it is still always nice to get the first of this seasons new fruit and veg with such magnificent flavours.


May is unquestionably the time for new vegetables, and at this time there are so many that get going at the end of April that are either just coming into season or are in full swing it seems we are bursting at the seams with seasonal luxury this month so you must try to mix and match sumptuous asparagus, tender peas and spicy watercress to make mouth-watering salads and soups.


There are not surprisingly, other vegetables that we can look forward to see this month; New Season Carrots, Mint, Wild Mushrooms, Nettles, Parsley, Radishes, Rocket, Samphire, Sorrel, Spinach and Watercress are all on offer outdoor grown salad leaves of all types come along, as do Radishes, Broad Beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Courgettes, all start to appear this month too, English tomatoes will start to become quite evident and get better as May fades into June.

The summer vegetables will be starting but the British fruit will still be a little limited, but the first of the strawberries will be appearing. We will also begin to find that the choice of meat and fish becoming more plentiful and that the farmhouse cheeses are at their best.


Fruit at Its Best

Rhubarb and form abroad, melons such as Cantaloupe, Charentais and Gallia and cherries and apricots.

British Fruit coming in now are Strawberries from Kent, Devon, and Cornwall May customarily sees the beginning of the English strawberry season; we have always related them with much later in the year more like late June, July and August but we now get tasty early strawberries, another fruit that surprises me at this time of year is the cherry, imported of course but once these and strawberries appear in the shops then you instinctively know summer is just around the corner.

Late May also sees the first flush of summer berries, gooseberries, red currants, black currants and probably even raspberries, now that’s something to look forward to isn’t it?


Vegetables at Their Best

Asparagus, spinach, radishes, spring greens and purple sprouting broccoli, cucumbers, primo cabbages and cauliflowers.

Vegetables just appearing are: Main crop carrots, new potatoes especially Jersey Royals, and those other tasty varieties such as those from Pembrokeshire, and Anglesey, new season turnips, young tender broad beans and tender sweet cucumbers, plus that tasty peppery arugula/rocket. It is probably your last chance to buy Leeks, parsnips and kale.

And don’t forget the herbs basil, chervil, chives; dill, elderflower, mint, nasturtium, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), and sorrel are all now becoming widely available.


Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

All the usual suspects are available but it is the new season lamb you want to keep a lookout for and the outdoor reared pork, Welsh Black Beef is another that id beginning to show itself more and more.


Fish and Seafood at Its Best

After particular beautiful Cornish weather in April which as always is excellent for catching and landing fish and seafood, May is and has been more of a challenge what with strong winds at the beginning of the month and now more winds this week netting and landing the catch has become a bit more difficult of a task for the boats and the same can be said for Scotland joyfully, what’s being landed is really superior produce.

For all that wonderful fresh fish look for Sea bass, Turbot and Monkfish, Salmon, Sea Trout, River Trout are at their best, Dover sole and Lobster are coming back after their low season, and Cornish crab and other shellfish are simply superb.

Line-Caught Mackerel is luscious, tasty, and plentiful right now, we are seeing reasonable sized fish, which makes for some lovely dishes whether you’re eating at home with your family or cooking for a few friends too.

The first sardines should soon be appearing at the fishmongers (for those in Pimlico look at the Cornish Chins) so get the barbecue out and start grilling, even though they have always been popular with the Spanish and Portuguese they have never really caught on in this country. We all eat them quite cheerfully while on holiday but it seems when we get back to our own patch, if they do not come in tins then we don’t seem to want to know them, it’s a shame really as when they are fresh they are very yummy. Drizzled with a good quality olive oil and grilled till the skin turns crispy, served with a salad of tossed leaves with a hint of lemon juice and some homemade crusty bread what could be better?

May is great for buying Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout.

A new online consumer guide to sustainable seafood has been launched today. The Good Fish Guide at www.goodfishguide.org.uk gives straightforward advice and cooking recipe ideas to make buying sustainable and varied seafood much simpler. The MCS Pocket Good Fish Guide has also been updated and now includes a credit card-sized guide to buying fish including top buying tips and questions to ask the fishmonger or at the fish counter.

The Latest Grocery News for May 2011

from Love British Food

  1. Mandatory rules for country of origin labelling are one step closer! The EU Committee for Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety has voted unanimously for country of origin labelling for all meat, poultry, dairy products, fresh fruit, and vegetables with a country of origin. Members also backed country of origin labelling for meat, poultry, and fish when used as an ingredient in processed foods. The decision will now be taken back to European Parliament in July where members must back a plenary vote.
  2. Tesco has started to import Black Angus beef from America, a direct competitor to Aberdeen Angus. British farmers produce 64 per cent of the beef we eat. Most of the rest comes from Ireland, but also increasingly Brazil and now, for the first time in many years, the USA. British farmers fear this increased competition will undercut their beef on price and shoppers will move away from British! Don’t let this be the case – buy British today!
  3. Waitrose has become the first supermarket to commit to offering English only cherries for the key window of the UK season – five weeks at the height of the summer. They will begin selling cherries from May with imported produce from N. America, Turkey, and Spain. Imported cherries will then be phased out for the five week 100 per cent English season and then in August, as the English season draws to a close, it will be English topped up with imported fruit.
  4. Look forward to a bumper strawberry crop! The warm weather has brought crops out 2 weeks earlier than usual and is predicted to be the best harvest in 20 years. As a result the number of strawberries imported from countries like Spain has been reduced by 50 per cent. Tesco has pledged to sell predominately English strawberries from the month of May.
  5. Get your English aubergines now! The Yorkshire grown aubergines, supplied by English Village Salads Ltd, have come into season and will be available in supermarkets now until November.
  6. Tesco has met the local target it set itself back in 2006 this month. The supermarket has broken its £1bn barrier for sales of locally sourced products.
  7. Asda is exclusively stocking the branded Cornish Crystal potatoes this year. The Cornish new potatoes have already hit supermarket shelves, making them one of the earliest UK mainland potatoes currently being sold.
  8. Volume sales of English apples have risen by 6 per cent this year and could grow by a further 50 per cent on the back of recent strong support for the industry by the multiples.
  9. Harvey Nichols has announced it will be holding summer dining events to take urbanites out of the city and closer to traditionally produced foods. The Hand Picked by Harvey Nichols events include tours, culinary master-classes, communal lunches, and activities showcasing ethical fishing and traditional pig rearing.
  10. East of England Co-operative has launched a new ‘Sourced Locally’ brand in-store. 200 stores across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been using shelf barkers to highlight food miles for some time but they are now broadening the marketing so all local foods are flagged up under the Sourced Locally brand.
  11. A new study by The People’s Trust for Endangered Species has found that nearly half of England’s traditional apple, pear, and cherry orchards have been abandoned or are being neglected. The loss severely threatens rare, historic varieties of fruit such as Sheep’s Snout and Slack my Girdle apples.
  12. Finally, planning applications are in place for at least six rabbit battery farms across the UK. Britain eats 3,000 tonnes of rabbit meat each year, virtually all of it imported, however many have concerns about the increased traffic and the animal welfare rights. Some state “They are moving away from battery farming in chickens, so it seems like a retrograde step”.

Seasonal foods at their best to look out for in the supermarkets this month:

Vegetables: asparagus, aubergine, broad beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, jersey royal new potatoes, kohlrabi, lettuces and salad leaves, new potatoes, onions, peas, potatoes (main crop), radishes, rhubarb, rocket, samphire, spinach, spring onions, watercress and wild nettles.

Fruit: cherries, elderflowers, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes.

Herbs: basil, chervil, chives, coriander, dill, elderflowers, mint, mushrooms (cultivated), mushrooms (wild), nasturtium, oregano, parsley (curly), parsley (flat-leaf), rosemary, sage, sorrel and tarragon.

Meat: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, rabbit, turkey, and wood pigeon.

Fish: Cockles, Cod, Coley, Conger Eel, Crab, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sardines, sea trout, shrimp, whelks and whitebait.


Local Shopping

imageTachbrook Street Market

Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.


imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

Sonny’s stall once again was a picture it is great to see such fresh produce full of lively colours, especially the Rhubarb it really looked vibrant and cooked up a treat when we made one of our favourite puddings so what else was on offer?

Well there were Apples English Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, British Asparagus, English Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, Jersey Royal Potatoes, Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition. He has also obtained some of the finest tasting British Strawberries and Raspberries we have had in a long time


Our Local Butcher Freemans (Butchers)

1image17 Lupus street, sw1v 3en 020 7821 1414),

Are displaying and ordering; The lamb is some of the best we have seen and his beef is well hung, the pork is outdoor reared and has a great taste with the fat to meat ratio spot on, we chose this week to have a small pork loin joint just for the two of us and at £4.25 for the joint we had a good 4 meals from it, The corn-fed chickens looked plump with a nice colour to them; this butcher is very proud of his offerings and has every right to be so.


Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook Street Market

imageMost all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts

Jon’s display was as usual a stunning menu of all the best the sea can offer, his Wild Black Bream was simply the best we have seen in a long time and Brown Crab, Haddock, Lemon Sole, Langoustines, Sardines, Sea Bass, and Sea Trout along with Sea Urchins, live Lobster, Brill and Dover Soles and the line caught Mackerel made it very difficult for us to make a choice.

There was Cornish Octopus, Plaice from Scotland so plump and sweet, and we chose for our meal this week some beautiful Cornish Whiting so simple to cook with just a little olive oil and butter cooked in the pan seasoned with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon and the served with those fantastic Jersey Royals and divine English asparagus.

We also bought a superb brown crab so we could make my Crab Paté you can find my recipe on MyDish just click on this link Crab Paté

Jon’s tips to buying fish and shellfish;

 Fresh Whole Fish

  1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
  2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
  3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
  4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
  5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

Fresh Fillets

  1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
  2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
  3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
  4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
  5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.


In The Garden;

We are not growing a lot this year because of the upcoming work on our windows, we have put in some mixed spicy salad and of course our much-loved Rocket (Arugula) and they are all coming along nicely, as well as our favourite herbs of Parsley, Sage, Mint, and Thyme.


Recipes for Month

My Crab Paté find it here on MyDish

Spiced Tempura Asparagus with Asian Dipping Sauce and Cucumber Salad

A tasty Summer treat with all the flavours of Asia

Serves / Makes:      4 servings

You Will Need;

Vegetable oil for deep frying

100 grams, self raising flour

15 grams, paprika

1 teaspoon, sea salt

150ml, sparkling water

16, asparagus spears

For the Dipping Sauce

150ml, light soy sauce

20 grams, garlic, crushed

10 grams, chopped red chilli pepper

2 teaspoons, caster sugar

For the Cucumber Salad

1, Romano pepper seeded and cut into finger length strips

100 grams, sugar snap peas

10 grams, fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1, cucumber cut into finger length strips

Toasted sesame seeds to garnish

Method;

Put the salad ingredients into a large bowl and mix well, using another bowl mix the dipping sauce ingredients and put to one side.

Heat the oil in a large deep pan or fryer to 180°C

Whisk together the flour, paprika and salt with enough sparkling water to make a batter, dip the asparagus spears into the batter until well coated, shake of the excess and place in batches into the hot oil, deep fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until golden and crisp, remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.

Place the warm tempura asparagus over a mound of the cucumber salad sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and along with the dipping sauce serve and Enjoy!


Spring Lamb Cutlets with a Wild Garlic & Herb Crust

Have you ever made a recipe that smelled so good while it was cooking that you had to leave the kitchen because you wanted to try it before it was done? That’s what happens in our house when I make this delicious dish of lamb with fresh herbs, and it’s a very simple recipe to follow.

Serves / Makes:        4 servings

Prep-Time:                 8 minutes

Cook-Time:                15 minutes

You Will Need

4 small or 2 large lamb cutlets

For the crust:

50 grams, white bread, torn into chunks

2 tablespoons, wild garlic leaves

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

Knob of butter

 

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 220°c.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan until foaming but not coloured and pan fry the cutlets for a few minutes on each side until browned.

Meanwhile, in a small blender whizz the bread, garlic leaves, rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper.

Press the mixture onto each cutlet, and roast in the oven for 15 minutes.

Serve with Jersey Royal potatoes or new potatoes and buttered primo cabbage and Enjoy!

Notes

If you go down to the woods today, it’s likely the smell of wild garlic (ramsons) will fill the air. This wild relative of the chive can be eaten in many ways, both raw and cooked – in soups, salads, or taking basil’s place in pesto. In this month’s recipe it partners traditional rosemary to flavour some equally seasonal spring lamb

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January, What’s in Season This Month


At the commencement of the year, we are starting to crave for fruit other than apples and pears, its time to look out for the first early forced rhubarb. It’s still really the season for root vegetables and cabbages of all types and whilst we are awaiting for the new season lamb we can still enjoy the last of the game, and while fish is plentiful, some boats have hit really bad weather so expect some fish prices to be a little high.

The weather has been freezing or miserable, many of us are thinking they should be on a diet or a detox cure after the Christmas excesses, and no-one’s got any money so it must be time to make soup it’s easy, it’s quick, it’s nourishing and it’s cheap.

Why spend money on expensive supermarket ready-prepared products when you can make a large panful yourself in less than 20 minutes with fresh vegetables bought on the market? Make enough to feed the family and have some left over for the freezer.

British winter fruit and veg is not just for Christmas; feast on it especially after a sharp frost and don’t forget Spring is not long in coming!

Cheshire and Stilton cheeses are at their best this time of year, Kale, Spinach, Leeks, Swedes, Celeriac, Cabbage, Turnips are at their peak and just coming in are Winter cabbages, new carrots and the first of the early forced rhubarb.

Cauliflowers from Cornwall make a tasty cauliflower cheese and the leeks from Lancashire are simply great for those soups and casseroles.

Mussels, Crabs, Oysters and Lobsters are really delicious now and I find that British beef is very good value Maureen and I have just had a pot roast made with a jolly good bit of brisket.

I can’t emphasise enough that the winter months are the time to enjoy British root vegetables and stores of local fruit and being harvested this month are leeks, green cabbages, parsnips, turnips, sprouts, celeriac, Jerusalem artichokes, shallots, mushrooms and forced rhubarb.

Fruit at Its Best

Apples, Cranberries, Passion Fruit, Pears, Pineapple, Pomegranate, Clementine’s, Satsuma’s, and Tangerines, Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Chestnuts, Hazelnuts, Truffles (Black And White), and Walnuts.

Vegetables at Their Best

The humble carrot is best in January as are Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Horseradish, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kale, Kohlrabi, Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes (Maincrop), Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radishes, Rhubarb, Rocket, Salsify, Shallots, Spinach, Swede and Turnips.

Meat, Poultry and Game at Its Best

Beef, Duck, Goose, Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Ham, Hare, Lamb, Partridge, Pheasant, Pork, Rabbit, Turkey, Venison, And Wood Pigeon.

Fish and Seafood at Its Best

Brill, Clams, Cockles, Cod, Conger Eel, Crab, Dab, Dover Sole, Eel, Haddock, Halibut, Hake, John Dory, Langoustine, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Mussels, Oysters, Plaice, Scallops, Sea Bream, Skate, Squid, Turbot and Winkles.

Herbs etc. at their best

Chestnuts, chives, coriander, mushrooms (cultivated), parsley (curly) and wild mushrooms.

The Latest Grocery News for January 2011
Last month this section was about the supermarkets but it has been pointed out that doing a section on all the news about our groceries would be much better so here we are bringing you the hottest news on products in the high street, markets, corner stores, supermarkets and other major items of interest about British food and what is our analysis of what we think is of interest.

EU orders U.K trawlers to dump 1million tons of fish,

Fresh anger over “mad” European Union fishing quotas erupted last night after an investigation showed that British fishermen are being forced to throw back nearly half of every haul into the sea.

New figures revealed that nearly a million tons of edible fish are chucked overboard every year across the whole North Sea trawler fleet.

The shocking extent of the waste caused by the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy will be shown next week in a Channel 4 documentary by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

“It’s not just a few undersize or damaged fish. It’s basket after basket of prime cod and coley,” Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall said. He calculated that around 600 kilos of fish were thrown back after one five-hour trawl of the nets.

“I could have fed 2,000 people with these fish but EU law says they can’t be landed, they must be thrown back”, the TV chef said.

EU fish quotas were introduced to protect dwindling stocks of fish by curbing excessive fishing of certain species. But the regulations mean crews are forced to dump millions of dead fish when over the maximum limit.

English and Welsh fishing vessels have discarded 4.8 million cod, 3.9 million haddock, 4.9 million plaice, 737,000 sole, and 17 million whiting in the last 10 years, according to Government statistics.

Tory backbencher Peter Bone, a member of the Better off Out group of MPs, said: “Nobody in their right mind would think it sensible to chuck millions of perfectly edible fish into the sea. This is purely to support an EU fishing law that has failed.

Britain must get back its powers over fishing rights. And the best way to do that is to get out of the EU.”

The Channel 4 programme shows how the 600-ton trawler the Seagull fished for monkfish, megrim, and ling after using up its quota for cod months ago.

Gary Much, skipper of the Seagull, tells the programme: “I can’t put a sign on the nets saying: ‘No cod today, please.’ “If we could land all the fish we catch, we could go to sea for half as many days using half the fuel and no fish would be wasted. It’s madness.”

Hugh’s Fish Fight is to be broadcast on Channel 4 next Tuesday to Thursday at 9pm.

Celebrity chefs make gurnard and dab fashionable

Strange species of fish could become the trendiest dish for a dinner party following a TV campaign by celebrity chefs to promote more sustainable fisheries off Britain.

The new campaign is being launched to persuade people to consider trying a new piscine experience. The campaign will feature on a celebrity chef-fronted Channel 4 season and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall will take the lead in advising viewers that for every meal of salmon, cod and tuna, people should eat one containing abundant species such as gurnard and dab.

Other News

  • The Co-operative has become the first retailer to switch its own label sliced bread to 100 per cent British wheat. Note, both Tesco and Sainsbury’s use 100 per cent British wheat for products made in their in-store bakeries but not in sliced pre-packed loaves.
  • Goose producers have launched the first ever label for British free-range geese so look out for it in-store!
  • The Co-operative has launched one of its biggest ever food campaigns. The supermarket is trying to encourage people to change their shopping habits and shop locally: ‘Good food within easy reach.’
  • M & S has launched a new ‘Lovely Vegetable’ range, which will contain a minimum of two of the recommended 5 A DAY. Seasonal British vegetables will be used where possible, with new dishes being introduced depending on what’s in season.
  • Sainsbury’s and Morrisons lead the sales of English top fruit. Figures by the English Apples and Pears organisation show Morrison has increased its share from 19.6 per cent to 21.2 per cent this season and Sainsbury’s holds a 25 per cent share. Meanwhile, Asda has struggled to perform this season with their share falling from 13.5 per cent to only 11 per cent.

Local Shopping

imageTACHBROOK STREET MARKET

Address: Tachbrook Street, SW1

Trading hours: Monday to Saturday: 8am to 6pm

Nearest tube: Victoria or Pimlico

Bus: 2, 24, 36, 185, 436

Open every day except Sunday, the number of stalls in this ancient street market increases as the week moves forwards, the market offers a wide array of goods from home furnishings and gardening equipment, to fruit and veg, fresh meat, fish, shellfish and bread and cakes, the market is home to an array of events counting late night shopping, gourmet lunchtime offers, ‘Fashion Thursdays’ and it will be hosting a brilliant Christmas market. Managed by Westminster Artisans Ltd on behalf of Westminster Council it is set to be a community hub thanks to its lively diverse array of stalls with scrumptious international hot food the paella is superb, fresh food, chocolate, cheese, olive oil, bread, funky fashion, and lots more. Discover different stalls on different days.

Dates for your diary:

Spring 2011 – Pimlico Food Festival

imageOn Sonny’s Stall on Tachbrook Street Market

What a pleasure it is to see such fresh produce full of vibrant colours this week was no disappointment with what was on offer. There was Apples, Gala, English Russets, Braeburns and Bramleys, Artichokes, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Courgettes, English King Edward Potatoes, English Raspberries,

Fennel, Field Mushrooms, Leeks, Mache (Lambs Lettuce), Parsnips, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Radish, Watercress, While Peaches, some fantastic pumpkins and squashes and you can plainly see that all of what was available was in first-rate condition.

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Our Local Butchers have been getting in

imageAs well as the customary cuts of meat on offer at Freeman’s they also had some exceptional beef we had a fantastic piece of brisket for pot-roast, also on show was some truly fine oxtail and at £6 a kilo you just can’t go wrong.

We had some excellent pork loin chops at a much more attractive price and quality than is offered by the supermarkets.

Alhayat had some exceptional Heather Fed Scottish lamb, British rosé veal and chicken and at a fantastic price, you can’t go wrong giving this shop a go.

Our Local Fishmonger Jon Norris on Tachbrook imageStreet Market Has Been Getting In

After a short Christmas break Jon is back and I think the people queuing up for his wares are getting longer and its no wonder as this week he had on offer some outstanding plump succulent Cornish Pollock (see below for my notes on this versatile cousin to the Cod) on his stall, you had your choice of steaks and fillets and one lady was buying a whole Pollock which Jon gladly cleaned and prepared it for her

His display as usual was a picture with Brill, Clams including sweet plump Razor Clams, Cod fillets, Cod steaks, Crab, Haddock, Hake, Halibut, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Megrim Sole, Dover Sole, Gilthead Bream, Cornish Gurnard, Lobster, Scottish Mackerel, Mussels, Monkfish, Native Oysters, Cornish Octopus, Plaice so plump and sweet, Pollock this is a must to try, Prawns, Rock Oysters, Scallops from the Isle of Man, wild Sea Bass, Skate, Sprats, Squid, Turbot, and Cornish Whiting, most all Jon’s fish is from around the Cornish, Devon and Scottish coasts and his prices are so competitive you must give this talented and exceptional fishmonger a try, you won’t be sorry.

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Jon’s Tips to Buying Fish and Shellfish;

Fresh Whole Fish

  1. The eyes should be clear and convex, not sunken
  2. The flesh should be firm and resilient to finger pressure
  3. The fish should smell freshly and lightly of the sea
  4. Don’t buy fish with a strong ‘fishy’ or sulphurous odour, or that smells of ammonia.
  5. Oily fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon should have a light, fresh oil smell, like linseed oil. If they smell of rancid oil, don’t buy.

Fresh Fillets

  1. The surface of the fillet should be moist, with no signs of discolouration.
  2. The texture should be firm, with no mushiness. Some separation of the muscle flakes (caused by the filleting process) is completely normal, but it shouldn’t be excessive.
  3. As with whole fish, the smell should be fresh and light, with no ‘off’ odours.
  4. Live bi-valves (including mussels, clams and oysters)
  5. The general rule of not buying bi-valves during any month spelled without an ‘r’ (i.e. May to August) still holds true, as this is the spawning season and quality will be poorer. When raw, the shells should be closed tight. Any slightly open shells that don’t close up in response to a few light taps should be discarded. When cooked, the shells should open – discard any that don’t.

Fish of the Week

The Pollock or Pollack is one more those fish which is frequently disregarded by consumers in this country, who instead plump for Cod or Haddock.

Our Celtic cousins across the Channel take another view stop at any fish restaurant in Brittany and ‘Lieu Jaune’ (Pollock) will habitually be the daily special or main attraction on the menu.

The worth that the French place on Pollack is reflected by the price they are will charge, conventionally Pollock have been caught either by inshore fishermen using hand lines around the rocks or as a extra catch by fishermen fishing for cod and other round fish type. Nevertheless, improved access to the French market has resulted in increasingly rising prices paid at first auction for Pollock. As a consequence, local fishermen are fishing for Pollock with hand lines and gill nets, fishing in their preferred locale;

In reaction to mounting prices and the ever-increasing price placed on line caught fish, talks are presently being held about the labelling of Pollock in the same way that line caught Bass are labelled (see www.linecaught.org.uk) providing “line-to-plate” traceability.

Another good reason to try Pollack is that around 90% of the Pollock landed in the UK is caught off the south west coast and landed into Cornish Ports landings are steady at just over 1000 tonnes per annum and the stock levels are said to be ‘stable’ by ICES Fisheries Scientists.

Pollack is available most of the year but more plentiful in the first and second quarters of the year, with 60% of the annual catch being taken in February, March and April.

Recipes for January

Pan Fried Pollack

A tasty fish dish from Raymond Blanc, don’t forget that the French think Pollack much more important that we Brits do and I think this dish is one of the best ways to introduce family and friends to this beautiful fish.

Serves / Makes:      4 servings

Prep-Time:               15 minutes

Cook-Time:              30 minutes

You Will Need

For the pommes purées

1 kilo / 1lb 2oz potatoes, such as Desirée, Belle de Fontenay, Estima or Maris Piper, peeled, cut into quarters

2 litres / 3 pints 10½ fl oz. cold water

200mls / 7 fl oz full-fat milk

60 grams / 2½oz unsalted butter

2 pinches sea salt

2 pinches freshly ground white pepper

For the Pollock

30 grams sliced white bread, cut into 1cm/½in cubes

4 x 180 grams / 6 ounce Pollock fillets, about 3cm/1¼in thick, skin on, bones removed

4 pinches sea salt

1 pinch freshly ground white pepper

60 grams / 2½ ounces unsalted butter

50mls / 2 fl oz hot brown chicken stock

50ml / 2 fl oz hot water

30 grams / 1¼ ounces capers, drained, rinsed

½ lemon, peeled, segmented, roughly chopped

30 grams / 1¼ ounces shallot, peeled and finely chopped

30 grams / 1¼ ounces caper berries

10 grams /½ ounce chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

10 grams / ½ ounce chopped fresh chervil

Method

For the pommes purées, bring the potatoes to the boil in a large pan of cold, salted water. Reduce the heat until the water is just simmering and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.

Drain well in a colander, setting the drained potatoes aside for 2-3 minutes to drive off the excess steam.

Mash the potatoes until smooth using a potato ricer or masher. Return the potato purée to a saucepan, add the milk and beat well until combined.

Beat in the butter until the mixture is fluffy and forms firm peaks, then season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, for the pollock, preheat the oven to its highest setting. Scatter the bread cubes onto a large baking tray and dry roast in the oven for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown. Remove the croûtons from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Pat the pollock fillets dry using kitchen paper, then season all over, to taste, with the salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. When the butter is foaming and starting to brown, add the pollock fillets, skin-sides facing upwards, and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until two thirds of each fish fillet has turned opaque.

Using a fish slice, carefully turn each pollock fillet over and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Transfer the fish fillets to a cold ovenproof frying pan and roast in the oven for 3-4 minutes, or until just cooked through, then set the fish fillets aside on a warm plate to rest.

Return the frying pan used to cook the pollock to a high heat. Add the brown chicken stock and water and bring to the boil.

Add the capers, chopped lemon segments, shallots, caper berries and two-thirds of each of the herbs. Stir well and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

To serve, spoon the pommes purées into the centre of each of 4 serving plates. Place one pollock fillet on top of each portion. Spoon over the caper and lemon sauce, then sprinkle over the croûtons and the remaining herbs.

Ham Hocks the Irish Way

Sweet succulent ham hocks served with a colcannon mash and cheese cream, this is a very tasty dish and will keep family and friends coming back for more.

It seems like I have been cooking this dish all my life although it has been tweaked a little from the original dish I first cooked for a young farmer’s dinner way back in 1974.

Serves / Makes:      8 servings

Prep-Time:               overnight

Cook-Time:              2 hours

You Will Need

For The Ham Hocks

2 x 350 gram ham hocks, soaked in a bowl of cold water overnight

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon, white peppercorns

200 grams, clear runny honey

50 grams, wholegrain mustard, I use grey Poupon

For The Colcannon

1 tablespoon, vegetable oil

1 medium onion, finely sliced

250 grams, mashed potato

30 grams, unsalted butter

30mls, double cream

250 grams, cabbage or kale, blanched and sliced, we use Savoy, January king, or green pointed

1 tablespoon, wholegrain mustard, again I use grey poupon mustard

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For The Cheese Cream

450mls, double cream

1 teaspoon, garlic paste

1 bay leaf

250 grams, cheddar cheese, grated, we have used both Lancashire and Cheshire cheese

Method

For the ham hocks, rinse the ham hocks with fresh water. Place them into a large pan and cover with water.

Add the onion, carrots, and bay leaf and white peppercorns, bring to the boil reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for two to three hours, or until the meat is tender and falling from the bone. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C/Gasmark 6.

Trim the outer layer of fat from the cooled ham hocks, and then make criss-cross patterns in the remaining soft fat on the hocks using a sharp knife.

In a bowl, mix together the honey and mustard until well combined.

Line a large roasting tray with aluminium foil fill the tray with the ham hocks and the boiled vegetables spread the honey and mustard mixture all over the ham hocks then roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, basting frequently with the juices that collect in the roasting tray, or until the ham is tender and completely cooked through.

Meanwhile, make colcannon, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat add the onion and fry for 8 to 10 minutes, or until softened and golden.

In a large bowl, mix together the mashed potato, butter, cream, blanched cabbage and mustard until well combined and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer the potato mixture to the frying pan with the onions in and press down to form a large potato cake. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown on one side turn over, using a plate if necessary to help you, and fry on the other side for a further 4 to 5 minutes, or until crisp and golden-brown on both sides.

For the cheese cream, in a separate pan, bring the double cream, garlic clove and bay leaf to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, then simmer the mixture until the volume of liquid has reduced by a third, this takes about 10 to 12 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve and discard the garlic clove and bay leaf and return the liquid to the pan add the grated cheese and stir until completely melted.

To serve, carve the ham into thick slices, and divide equally among eight serving plates, place a spoonful of the colcannon alongside each now spoon over the cheese sauce.

Serve and Enjoy!

Notes

Side dishes don’t come more Irish than creamy colcannon; it is a traditional Irish dish mainly consisting of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. It is also the name of a song about that dish.

Colcannon is traditionally made from mashed potatoes, kale or cabbage, butter, salt, and pepper. It can contain other ingredients such as milk, cream, leeks, onions, chives, garlic, boiled ham, or Irish bacon. At one time it was a cheap, year-round staple food, though it is usually eaten in autumn/winter, when kale comes into season An old Irish Halloween tradition was to serve colcannon with prizes of small coins concealed in it, as the Irish and English do with Christmas pudding.

The song "Colcannon", also called "The Skillet Pot", is a traditional Irish song that has been recorded by many artists, including Mary Black. It begins:

 Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?

 With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.

 Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake

 Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?

 The chorus goes:

 Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.

 And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.

 Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,

 And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.

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Fishcakes with Prawns and Homemade Tartare Sauce


I must first apologise for this blog and recipe being late, I did promise it for last week but I was a little under the weather, now feeling much better here it is.

Fishcakes with Prawns and Homemade Tartare Sauce

cod-fish-cakesYou can’t beat these homemade fish cakes, served with homemade tartare sauce just perfect with a squeeze of lemon.

We both like fishcakes and do not mind if they are made from Haddock, Cod, Pollack, Whiting, or Salmon, they are so straightforward to prepare, why not try adding a bit of smoked salmon for additional indulgence.

We used to serve these for breakfast and light lunches at The Great Tree Hotel sometimes using smoked haddock but no matter what fish we used they were always a popular dish.

We have served fishcakes as tea for the children of families we have worked for, and they always wanted more, Lord Hanson loved them for breakfast as did quite a few of his guests.

Now to the recipe which will make 4 large cakes or 8 small ones, this recipe should only take about 20 minutes to prepare and about 15 to 20 minutes to cook.
 

You will need for the Fish Cakes;

 450 grams, filleted and skinned Haddock, or you can use Whiting, Pollack, or Cod
4, large raw tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
300 grams, potatoes, peeled and chopped for boiling
2, fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs, fresh parsley
150mls milk
½ teaspoon, finely grated lemons zest, we now use the small microplane grater
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons, plain flour to use for dusting etc..
100 grams, fresh white breadcrumbs, we like ours to be a day or two old
2 tablespoons, vegetable oil, for shallow frying, we use the Tefal Again and Again it has no cholesterol.
Lemon wedges and watercress, baby spinach and rocket leaves to garnish

For a Quick Tartare Sauce Recipe;

200mls, mayonnaise
3 tablespoons capers, drained and chopped
3 tablespoons gherkins, drained and chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 good squeeze of lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all the sauce ingredients together and put to one side it is best to keep this chilled.
Method
Place the haddock and bay leaves and parsley sprigs into a pan, pour over the milk cover, bring up to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Now add the prawns, and take the haddock and prawns off the heat and let stand, covered, for about 10 minutes to finish cooking, the prawns will steam nicely and cook and become tender.
Put the potatoes into a pan cover with water and season with sea salt, bring to a boil lower the heat, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until tender.
Now take the haddock and prawns from the milk with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
Drain the potatoes in a colander and leave for a few minutes to cool and drain a little, now put them through a potato ricer or mouli or just mash them by hand, we just want a light fluffy mash. Mix into the potatoes about 1 tablespoon of the sauce, lemon zest and parsley, season well with salt and pepper the potato should have a nice zesty flavour, so taste and fine-tune the seasoning.
Drain off any liquid from the haddock, grind some pepper over it, then flake it into the pan of potatoes slice the prawns into a similar thickness and then with your hands, gently lift the haddock and prawns and potatoes together so they just mix together it should only take a couple of turns, be careful you don’t want to allow the fish to break up too much.
Put the beaten egg into a shallow dish and lightly flour a board, spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet.
Divide the fish cake mixture into four cakes or 8 small cakes and on the floured work surface, and with floured hands, carefully shape the fish cakes about 1 inch thick.
Then one at a time, coat each cake in the beaten egg, making sure the top and sides are coated, I like to use a pastry brush for this. Now cover each cake one at a time in the breadcrumbs so that they are lightly covered.
Let chill for 30 minutes or so, you can make them ahead of time if you want.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the fish cakes over a medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.
Serve and Enjoy with the tartare sauce and garnished with the watercress, spinach and rocket leaves and lemon wedges.
• The fish cakes will freeze brilliantly for up to 4 weeks
• To cook the fish cakes from frozen, place them on a lightly oiled tray, then drizzle with a little more oil, cook on the middle shelf under a medium grill for 12 to 15 minutes until golden, flip over, then cook the other side for 5 minutes.

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