What's in season - July 18 round-up

Pomelos

This citrus looks like puffed-up grapefruits. The skin is thick, a bit dull in tone and slightly spongy to the touch. What's inside is much more appealing than the package suggests. The segments have a mild, clean flavour. At Asian roadside stalls, pomelos are often sold as peeled segments in punnets, sometimes served with a dipping spice of salt, sugar and dried chilli. The segments can be broken down into the little arils and used in the same way as finger limes. Scatter over a salad, through a dessert or on an oyster.

Sake lees

Winter is the traditional time to make sake in Japan because cold temperatures are required to control the ferment. Modern breweries operate 365 days a year thanks to refrigeration, and only the few remaining traditional sake brewers follow the old timetable. Yet sake lees, also called sake kasu, is still considered a winter treat. The lees is the white ''cake'' left after the liquid sake is pressed from the porridge-like ferment. It looks a bit like firm tofu but where tofu is bland and takes on the flavours around it, sake lees is unmistakable and tastes like a particularly umami-rich sake. The Japanese hold sake lees in high esteem. It's considered a health food (for cholesterol reduction) and a beauty treatment (soak a bag of it in the bath for beautiful skin). Cooks like it for its bold presence in a range of dishes. Australia's sake brewer, Go-shu, brews sake year-round. Its frozen sake lees is always available and, for a few days after each batch is pressed, it also sells fresh sake lees. The current batch of sake will be ready at the end of the month or early next month. For more information, see sun-masamune.com.au.

WAYS WITH SAKE LEES

To use sake lees as a marinade for fish, soak it in water in an airtight container for 10 days to soften. This can be used as is or with sugar, sake or miso added, or a combination of all three. Marinate fish fillets in the mixture overnight, then grill. Some cooks wipe the fish clean of the marinade first; others put up with mess on the grill rather than miss any of the tasty sake lees.

Silverbeet

This green vegetable's robust flavour shouldn't fool cooks into thinking it has any staying power in the fridge. Silverbeet's boldly upright and firm-looking leaves wilt and sag just as fast as the more fragile-looking leaves of English spinach. Both are best cooked on shopping day. Spinach stems are inedible but the white stems of silverbeet should be saved. Slice them and add to minestrone or other chunky soups.

WHAT TO BUY

Avocado Deliciously creamy.

Cabbage Crinkly savoy and chunky white varieties are good.

Celeriac Choose mid-size bulbs.

Fennel Big bulbs are the best buy.

GingerChoose firm pale-gold tubers.

Jerusalem artichoke Good for roasting and making soup.

Kale Tuscan and other varieties are available.

Leeks At their best now.

Lemon Time to revisit lemon delicious.

Oranges Sevilles can be found for marmalade makers.

Strawberries Big, sweet fruit is from Queensland.

Tangelo Juicy fruit.

Truffles Celebrate the season.

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    The story What's in season - July 18 round-up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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