What's in season - August 21 round-up

Sumo mandarins
The dekopon is a Japanese hybrid between a mandarin and an orange, and is renowned for its exceptionally high sweetness and low acidity. It was released in the US last year under the brand name Sumo. The new moniker refers to the size of the fruit, which, like the wrestler, is a big handful with a tangelo-like topknot. There's no wrestling required by eaters, though, as the skin peels easily. Sumos have low levels of the white webbing, called rag, that clings to mandarin segments. Its absence helps accentuate the sweetness of the flesh. Australian growers in the Riverina started producing Sumos for export last year. This season they will be available in Sydney, but in limited supply and only for the next few weeks. Try them at selected Harris Farm Markets stores.

Kingfish
It's a great time of year to be eating wild yellowtail kingfish caught off the southern coast of NSW. Cold water kills off the parasites that can affect the quality of the fillets when the fish swim in more balmy seas. Most yellowtail kingfish sold in restaurants and fishmongers is farmed in South Australia, and sold as hiramasa kingfish, to distinguish it from wild fish. The Spencer Gulf never gets balmy so parasites aren't an issue with the farmed product, which is delicious year-round but even tastier in the winter. The fat levels of farmed kingfish vary from 18 per cent to 25 per cent, depending on the water temperature. The fish's creamy, firm texture is at its best now.

Beetroots
English cooks of the 17th century were inventive with both the edible leaves and the swollen bulb of the beetroot. The 19th-century celebrity home cook, Mrs Beeton, advised they be boiled and pickled (in her Book of Household Management). The vegetable subsequently went into decline in the English-speaking world. It's only in the past 20 years or so that beetroots have made a leap back into culinary fashion, and sometimes on into mad, bad fad (beetroot risotto, beetroot pasta). Growers have been slow to catch up and most beetroots sold to home cooks are the same varieties bred for canning. The common beetroot is tasty, but it would be exciting to choose from named varieties. Meanwhile, look for unmarked bulbs, and avoid those with overly limp leaves or wrinkled skins, both of which are signs of dehydration.

WAYS WITH BEETROOTS
Simmer whole, unpeeled beetroots in water until tender. Allow to cool, then slip off the skins, and cut into julienne. Fry a diced onion in butter until soft, then add the beetroot. Season well with salt and pepper and serve hot.

WHAT TO BUY
Apples Granny smiths still eating well.
Artichokes Both globe and jerusalem are plentiful and tasty.
Avocados Buy green to ripen at home.
Beans Green beans are pricey due to cold weather in Queensland, choose broad beans instead.
Broccoli Locally grown product is available.
Mandarins Murcott and afourer are the pick of the bunch this week.
Okra Wrap in paper towel and a loose plastic bag, and store in the crisper.
Oranges Orange and ruby navels are a great buy.
Passionfruit Peak season.
Pomelos Store at room temperature and use in salads.
Radishes Both baby and larger sizes are available.
Watercress Tasty salad option.

The story What's in season - August 21 round-up first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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