Michael Smith Kitchen Confidential

Head chef at The Three Chimneys on the Isle of Skye, Michael Smith is celebrating the start of summer with mackerel and gooseberries

Michael Smith Photo

Cooking With

Truly, June is a crackin’ month. Up here in Skye, we’re a little bit behind the rest of the country in terms of seasons, so around this time spring is established, and we’re beginning to see all that green stuff coming in that signals the beginning of summer. Like broad beans – this time of year, I use them as an accompaniment to pretty much anything. They only need simple preparation; pod and blanch quickly, remove each bean’s white casing, and toss in a salad with mint and other veg. They go great with any kind of white fish, especially when fried and served, as the Spanish do, with serrano ham (though I use Scottish midcap bacon), shallots, olive or rapeseed oil and lemon juice. The young, small broad beans are great for using whole but they need to be eaten fresh off the vine to preserve their texture, flavour and aroma. The ones we use are picked only the hour before we get them.

Summer means mackerel; this is something we really look forward to. On days off, chefs from my kitchen go mackerel fishing – and it often turns into a competition to see who can catch the most! We usually end up cooking some of the fish in the restaurant. I love to pair a spanking fresh mackerel with gooseberries, the real herald of June. The fatty, oily flesh of the mackerel marries perfectly with the tartness of the gooseberry; I’ll stew berries with a bit of white wine, then use them with beurre noisette to make a sauce to serve with a panfried fillet. The sauce also works well with other fatty fish, such as salmon.

Firm, fresh strawberries, picked in the sunshine, are the classic June fruit. They work so well with a camomile syrup – just mix equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil with lots of fresh camomile tea. Toss in a couple of threads of saffron and let simmer until really infused. Squeeze some fresh lemon in, reduce, then drizzle the syrup over the strawberries (threechimneys.co.uk)

Who i'm using

Most of my vegetables come from Anthony at Skye Vegetables (skyevegetables.co.uk), just down the road. We make a lot of our own dairy products but the base milk and cream comes from Inverness Farmers (farmersdairy.co.uk).



Michael Smith Photo

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