WEEKLY FEATURE
IT'S safe to venture back into local markets this week as some semblance of normality has returned after the massive price increases over Christmas and New Year.

My star buys from the fish market this week are super-fresh Red mullet (Salmonetes) at around 12 euros a kilo and Mussels from Galicia (Mejillones gallegas) at 2'75 euros a kilo.

Red mullet is a delicious, delicate fish with lean flesh and a distinctive flavour.
The fillets do contain small, sharp bones that can be removed with tweezers before cooking.
They are best grilled, baked or fried, never poached or boiled.
A very simple way to cook red mullet is to bake them in foil with lemon, garlic and parsley.
If you are worried by the thought of small fish bones, then fresh, meaty monkfish at 16'00 a kilo is the perfect solution.
With excellent, non-flaky flesh it is often cut into steaks for grilling or into chunks for fish stews.
If you are going to buy fresh mussels, make sure they are well cleaned before cooking and that the shells are all tightly closed.
Any damaged or open shells should be discarded.
During the cold weather spell it's time to indulge in heart-warming dishes designed to keep out the chill, revive flagging spirits and jaded palates.
So why not pick up some stewing steak (Estofado de ternera) at around 6-7 euros a kilo.
Stews are just the thing to add a warm glow to cold winter nights wherever you are.
When cooking stews and casseroles, basic rules need to be applied.
Firstly, the flavour of most stews can be improved enormously if you take a bit of time and trouble when browning the meat.
Make sure you brown them in small batches, over a hot flame, so the meat doesn't steam.
The temperature must be high enough to trigger the browning process.
Aromatic vegetables such as carrots, celery, leeks and onions can also be browned after the meat and this will also add considerably to the richness of the finished dish.

Liquids, such as wine, beer or stock are also essential for braising because less tender meats have greater amounts of collagen.
This is a connective tissue that needs prolonged exposure to heat to break it down, the higher the cooking temperature, the tougher the muscle fibres become so make sure it never boils.

Cooking temperatures should be just high enough to kill micro organisms, yet not so high that the meat toughens.
Pink grapefruits are another good buy at the moment.
At 2'10 euros a kilo they make great eating and are my star buy at the fruit stalls this week.
Star buys:

l Red mullet 12'00 euros a kilo

l Fresh mussels 2'75 euros a kilo

l Stewing steak 7'00 euros a kilo

l Pink grapefruit 2'10 euros a kilo

Marc is the head chef at Read's Hotel in Santa Maria and holds weekly cooking demonstrations and classes at Fosh Foods culinary boutique and delicatessen in Palma.

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