From our Chef: The Radish


The Radish 

 James Sherwin The Radish

 

So why is my first post for Buy-From Shropshire starting with a picture of radish before I’ve even introduced myself……we’ll get to that soon, however, so let's start with a few pleasantries.

 

I’m James Sherwin, owner/head chef etc of the Wild Shropshire pop up restaurant/project. The aim of Wild Shropshire is to explore the flavours (often forgotten in today's world) abundant within our beautiful county.

 

So what's the significance of the radish? Most chefs have two dreams: the first is to open their own restaurant, producing the food they want and making more money than they can spend; The other is to be able to grow and forage all their own ingredients. The latter guarantees quality and retains some connection to the outside world when the majority of their time is spent in a windowless sweat box!

 

Unfortunately, I haven’t got my own restaurant but I created the ‘Wild Shropshire Allotment’. In my head it is a small farm capable of sustaining a small restaurant/hippy commune - in reality it is a few raised beds in which I'm trying to grow as many different plants in as possible! 

 

The radish above is the very first thing that I’ve taken out of my allotment and it was without a doubt, the sweetest and most fiery radish I’ve ever tasted. Immediately the chef in me started thinking about dishes that would highlight its brilliance (I appreciate I’ve just described a radish as brilliant but bear with me, you’ll get used to it!). 

 

So, why was this radish so good? Is it because I built the bed, sowed the seeds, watered it every night and went out every morning to see how much they’d grown? (I’m sure I’ve nurtured these more than i do my children!!) Or is it because it’s in season and being eaten at the right time? The Japanese have a term for this timing: ‘shun…food should only be eaten in it’s proper season when it is at it’s peak’. It is undoubtedly a combination of both of these enhanced by the fact that it hasn't been sitting in a supermarket warehouse for an inordinate amount of time waiting for it to be shipped to the shop before eventually finding it’s way into your fridge. 

 

As consumers, we have become obsessed with having what we want when we want and not working with and looking forward to the seasons. I’d ask, though, is it really that important to people to eat flavourless raspberries in January or asparagus in October?


Back to the radish: Its brilliance comes in part due to the fact that they're in season and are being eaten at the right time. For me as a chef, this is important. My job is to give people great food and this is not possible using poor quality, out of season ingredients! There's a reason why hyper seasonal and hyper local cooking is en vogue at the moment - it's about giving the person eating the best account of an ingredient as is possible. Fresh is best! 

 

I feel like we’ve lost our connection to food in some ways; we’ve forgotten about the most important part…the ingredient. Instead of using your local supermarket, go into Shrewsbury's Market Hall, a farmer's market, go and see lovely Maxine in Whitchurch and talk to the people selling about what's good, fresh and vital at the moment. Trust me, the difference in flavour will be immeasurable. 

 

What's in season at the moment:

Artichokes, Asparagus, Broccoli, Aubergines, Courgettes, Fennel, Mange tout, New Potatoes, Peas, Radishes, Runner beans, Spring Onions, Turnips, Watercress, Apricots, Blueberries, Cherries, Elderflowers, Gooseberries, Cantaloupe Melons, Raspberries, Strawberries, Tomatoes, Lamb, Wood Pigeon, Cod, Crab, Dover Sole, Haddock, Halibut, Herring, John Dory, Lemon Sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Plaice, Salmon, Sardines, Sea Bass, Sea Tout, Grey Mullet, Broad Beans, Cucumbers, Kohlrabi, Salad leaves, Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Blackcurrants, Plums, Redcurrant's, Beetroot, Green Beans. This list is taken from www.britishlarder.co.uk a fantastic resource.

 

Projects for June:

Go and collect as many Elderflowers as you possibly can and stuff them into 2 Kilner jars. In one jar add a 50/50 sugar syrup i.e equal parts sugar and water, In the other cover the elderflowers with Cider vinegar. Give these a couple of months to infuse.

 

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed my first piece, if you want to see any of my other work or look further into Wild Shropshire please visit www.wildshropshire.net

 

Thanks

James


 James Wild Shropshire