Sorrel is part of the lettuce family and grows abundantly in the countryside from early spring. It is also available in selected supermarkets and farm shops. Its arrow-shaped leaves resemble a paler looking type of baby spinach and have an astringent lemony flavour that comes from the high content of oxalic acid.
Because of its acidity sorrel is often combined with other mellowing ingredients. It is ideal in soups, sauces or salads with avocado and cucumber, goat’s cheese and beetroot or chopped like a herb and added to stuffing.
Like spinach and watercress it cooks down to minimal quantities and works particularly well with fish, chicken and egg dishes. Try shredded sorrel cooked in butter on sourdough toast with a poached egg, or oily fish such as poached sea trout or grilled mackerel with a sorrel sauce (made with fish stock, cream and vermouth).
The citrus notes, not unlike lemon verbena, mean that sorrel can even be added to fruit salads, jellies and custard.