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Hot Shellfish with Garlic, Herbs, Olive Oil and White Wine

Ahernes Hot ShellfishAherne's Seafood Restaurant in Youghal, County Cork is the Georgina Campbell Seafood Circle Restaurant of the Year 2010, sponsored by BIM.

This exuberant mélange is a speciality from head chef/joint-proprietor, David Fitzgibbon, and it is simple to make when you have access to the ingredients.

Irish shellfish is in excellent condition at this time of year and this would make a dramatic centrepiece for a special occasion - and of course the quantities are flexible.

675g/11/2 lb lobster
6 prepared scallops in their half shells, corals intact
6 large raw peeled Dublin Bay prawns (langoustines), veins removed
100g/4oz mussels, cleaned
100g/4oz raw native shrimps (preferably live)
12 crab toes
6 Pacific/Gigas oysters, opened
1 tbsp dry white wine
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 mild red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley, chives and chervil
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish
lemon wedges

SERVES 4-6

To prepare the lobster, place on a board and cover it with foil and a cloth. Hold firmly down with one hand and, with the point of a large knife, pierce down to the board through the cross on the centre of the head.

Bring a large deep pan of boiling salted water with a two-tier steamer set on top to the boil. Remove the steamer sections and add the lobster to the boiling water, then cook for 10 minutes. Lift out and set aside.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and arrange the scallops and Dublin Bay prawns in the bottom section of the steamer and put the mussels in the top section. Steam for 2 minutes, then scatter the shrimps and crab toes on top of the mussels and steam for another minute or two until all the seafood is cooked through and tender. Discard any mussels that have not opened.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Place the wine in a small pan with the garlic, chilli, herbs and olive oil and heat gently to combine, then season to taste.

When the lobsters are cooked, the colour changes to bright red. Using a clean tea towel, pull the claws from the body. Crack the claws and then use a large chef’s knife to cut each lobster in half from the back, along the length of the body; remove the intestinal tract, and discard.

Pile all of the hot shellfish on a large platter with the oysters and spoon over the warm dressing. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve at once with plenty of finger bowls for cleaning fingers.

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