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Celebrating the seasons

Seasonality, provenance and a passion for flavour continue to drive Jude Kereama and the teams of his two Porthleven restaurants.

Words by Dan Warden

Jude Kereama, owner of Porthleven’s Kota and Kota Kai, has earned a reputation around the UK for his approach to cuisine. Multiple appearances on the BBC’s Great British Menu are testament to his accomplishment as a culinary craftsman, and if you ask him what makes great food, he’ll tell you that what appears on the plate is only as good as the ingredients it’s made from. For this reason, he and his team of chefs place great importance on the quality of the ingredients they use. They value provenance and seasonality above all, and as we go to press on this edition of DRIFT Epicure, they are very much enjoying the gifts of spring. “Asparagus, three-cornered leeks, peas, beans, morels,” says Jude, “these are just some of the wonderful ingredients gracing our menus at the moment. It’s always exciting when spring comes around and the gardens start to flourish with the warmth.

“In fact, seasonality is the biggest influence on our menus,” he continues, “and we make sure that we utilise the freshest possible produce as often as we can. We are so lucky here in Cornwall to have such a variety of incredible ingredients, and we certainly have the best seafood, butchers and farms anywhere in the UK!”

As we look to the season ahead, this dedication to drawing on Cornwall’s natural larder seems unlikely to change. Over at Kota, new Head Chef Ross Sloan is bringing a real buzz to the team and restaurant atmosphere, and his menus are triumphantly wowing each and every guest that comes through the door with their creative use of Cornish food. Meanwhile, over at Kota Kai, Head Chef Marcus Houghton adopts a similar approach, delivering the Kai menu to contented guests as they relax and enjoy the harbour view.

Across the two restaurants, they are also gearing up for a busy season. “After the long winter,” says Jude, “all of us, in both restaurants, are very excited to see the sunshine.” Which is a good point. Not only is the sunshine great for our moods – an uplifting sight in the sky after a long and dreary winter – it brings with it the vital tourism that businesses in the hospitality sector rely on. “Here in Porthleven we are pretty lucky,” says Jude. “With all the great restaurants and pubs, we seem to maintain more of a year-round season, but when the main season comes, it’s pretty non-stop, which is crucial for so many other businesses like ours in Cornwall.”

With this being our food and drink special edition, over the page you’ll find two mouth-watering recipes – giving you a flavour for Jude’s approach to food, and hopefully whetting your appetite to see what’s on the Kota and Kai menus next time you’re in Porthleven. “The two dishes I have chosen to share are just old favourites of mine,” he says. “I always tend to have a scallop dish on in Kota, and this one is just a tasty recipe! The apple terrine, meanwhile, I love because it’s so decadent. It’s the ultimate apple dessert, which is saying something, because I’m a sucker for apple desserts!”

Scallops with creamed leeks and XO sauce

Serves 1


2 hand dived scallops

125ml double cream

2 leeks

2 baby leeks

XO sauce

Leek oil

Crispy shallots

Coriander cress to garnish

Chopped baby leeks

1 scallop shell per person for serving in

For the creamed leeks

2 leeks thinly sliced quickly blanched in hot salted water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Salt and pepper

125ml double cream

For the crispy shallots

1 banana shallot thinly sliced on a mandolin

300ml vegetable oil

For the leek oil

250ml vegetable oil

150g leek tops


For the XO sauce:

We make our own XO sauce at Kota, but for this recipe I would suggest you buy one on Amazon or from an Asian grocer. The one we make at Kota takes a long time and is made up of all the scallop roes that we save from shucking the scallops. They are dehydrated to intensify their flavour in our dehydrators. Also, our ham is home-cured and smoked, which is another long job that requires special equipment. A small bottle of Heng’s Crispy XO Scallop Chilli sauce will do the trick. It is super delicious and will end up on everything that you serve. Obviously not as tasty as mine, but a great substitute!

For the creamed leeks:

Thinly slice the leeks and quickly blanch in hot salted water. Warm the butter in a pan, add the leeks and cook for two minutes. Add the cream and reduce the heat. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until tender, and season to taste.

Warm the butter in a pan and add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cream and reduce the heat. Cook slowly for 10 minutes until tender and season.

For the leek oil:

Place the oil and leeks in a pot, warm to 70 degrees and hold the temperature for 3 minutes. Blend on high until smooth and then pour into a very fine strainer and let it drip into a bowl in the fridge. Don’t force the mix through a strainer as the oil will become cloudy.

For the crispy shallots:

Add the shallots and oil to a pot and warm until it is starting to bubble. Turn the heat down and the cook shallots until golden brown. Leave on some paper towel to drain.

For the scallops:

Shuck, trim and clean the scallops. Sear them until just cooked, then slice in half.

To serve:

Spoon the creamed leeks into the bottom of the scallop shells and top with the scallops. Dress with XO sauce and a drizzle of leek oil. Scatter the baby leeks over next, followed by the crispy shallots and a few sprigs of coriander.

An apple a day

Serves 12


For the apple sorbet:

5 Granny Smith apples

5g ascorbic acid

1½ lemons juiced

700g sugar

700g water

For the caramel powder:

300g sugar

60g glucose syrup

125g diced unsalted butter

Cornish sea salt

For the apple terrine:

10 Pink Lady apples

1 lemon

Bowl of water

For the puff pastry base:

300g puff pastry, pre rolled

100g icing sugar

For the apple crisps:

2 Granny Smith apples

100g sugar

200g water

25g lemon juice

For the apple crumble mix:

1 vanilla pod, scraped

100g ground almonds

100g spray dried apple powder

½tsp cinnamon powder

120g feuilletine

40g brown butter

For the Calvados apple sauce:

9 tablespoons caramel powder

9 tablespoons apple juice

3 tablespoons Calvados

Cornish sea salt to season

For the custard:

½ vanilla pod

600ml whole milk

4 egg yolks

2 tablespoons caster sugar

1 tablespoon corn flour


For the apple sorbet and caramel powder

Bring the sugar, glucose and water to a rapid boil and reduce by a third. Leave to cool. Add the liquid, lemon juice, ascorbic acid and apples to a blender and blitz. Pass through a fine strainer and freeze. For the caramel powder, heat sugar and glucose into a dark caramel and then whisk in the butter. Season with the salt. Allow to set, then blitz into a powder.

For the apple terrine:

Make some acidulated water with lemon and water. Put in a large bowl. Peel the apples and slice 1mm thick into the bowl. Take a rectangular 30x20cm mould and place on top of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread a layer of caramel powder and then a layer of sliced apple. Repeat until all the apples are used up. Bake on 190°c for 1hour 10mins. Check the terrine and pour off any excess liquid, reserving for glazing. Bake for 20 more minutes or until just cooked. Take out of the oven and cool for a few minutes, then place on top of the pastry sheet.

For the puff pastry base:

Roll out pastry on parchment paper as thin as you can. Dust with icing sugar to stop sticking. Dust a little extra when it is completely rolled out. You are aiming for a pastry sheet about 30cm x 20cm. Fork the pastry all over. Put between two baking sheets and bake at 200°c until golden. Place the pastry on top of the apple terrine and flip over so the pastry is on the bottom. Glaze the top of the terrine with the apple terrine juices.

For the apple crisps

Warm the liquids up. Slice apples 1mm thick and dip in the sugar syrup. Lay on parchment sheet and dehydrate on 50°c overnight.

For the apple crumble mix:

Toast almonds in the oven on 150°c, stir and cook until golden. Add all the dry mix together and bind with brown butter.

For the Calvados apple sauce and custard:

Make a caramel with water and sugar. When dark, add apple juice and bring to the boil. Whisk in the apple juice and Calvados. Season with sea salt.

For the custard, split the vanilla pod, scrape the seeds and add to a pan with milk. Warm on a medium heat and bring to a boil. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and corn flour together and stir the milk in. Warm on a medium heat and stir until custard texture.

To serve:

Warm the terrine, then slice into portions. Spoon Calvados sauce over the terrine. Spoon crumble mix beside the terrine. Place a scoop of apple sorbet on the crumb. Garnish with apple crisps, sorrel and serve custard in a jug.


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