Cookery Feature - A Taste of the Sea

While home baking seems to have become the new national sport during the lockdown, all home cooking is seeing a welcome revival and it’s good to see so many producers upping their game to offer online shopping with collection and/or delivery services in their locality or, in many cases, nationwide.
This includes fish and seafood suppliers, which is perfect for the season - as spring turns to early summer it’s natural to crave lighter, more colourful food and never more than this year. And, whatever about the serious issues we’re all facing, it’s reassuring to see how well nature has responded to the reduced pollution in recent weeks and - thanks also to the unusually good weather - the new season produce is coming along especially nicely. That means we can look forward to plenty of the fresh salads and vegetables that go so well with fish, including the temptations of crunchy foreshore vegetables like samphire, and - if we’re lucky - asparagus from Irish growers such as Drummond House in Co Louth.

There is huge demand for attractive, simple and easy to follow seafood recipes and the ones that follow should fit the bill very nicely. They’re all from the new edition of our little ‘seafood bible’ From Tide To Table. As well as giving easy recipes for cooking up a wide variety of delicious dishes for all tastes and occasions, it includes a wide range of side dishes (often a challenge for home cooks), profiles of some of our best producers, and basics like how to identify the fish and shellfish caught or produced in Irish waters and choose the best ones for your particular needs when shopping.

Most fishmongers shops are currently open as usual but getting to them is not always easy, so some of those offering fresh fish collection / delivery services around the country are listed below. Some speciality producers also deliver, eg Sally Barnes’s Woodcock SmokeryFrank Hederman’s Belvelly Smokehouse; the Cresswell family’s Ummera Smoked Products; Union Hall Smoked Fish; Birgitta Hedin Curtin’s Burren Smokehouse; and the Roberts family’s Connemara Smokehouse among others.

Sustainable Seafood Ireland (SSI) 
Established by chef Niall Sabongi as a wholesale business in 2013, you can now order from their excellent website where details are given of pickups at their HQ in Clonshaugh Dublin 17 and nationwide home delivery details. (email:

Kish Fish 
Shops in Bow Street, Coolock, Dunboyne (Avoca), Howth; home delivery ‘menu’ online - call 01 8543900 or email to place order and pay.

Doyles Premium Seafood, Tallaght 
Online shop with delivery in Dublin area; includes less usual items, eg samphire, whelks.

Nicky’s Plaice, Howth 
Long established fishmonger and fish smoker; delivery in north Dublin area, from €5.

Dorans, Howth 
Fishmongers and restaurateurs. Online sales for delivery, also takeaways from Octopussys restaurant (Octopussy orders: 086 260 1803)

Beshoffs, Howth 
Fishmongers with small speciality foodstore, restaurant and tapas bar; fresh fish collection/delivery in Howth/Sutton area.

Reid’s Fish Market, Howth 
Shop on Howth pier and online, with home delivery available.

Kirwan’s Fish Cart, Drogheda 
Long established fishmongers with speciality foods & nearby restaurant; call ahead on 041 983 0622 to order a pick-up outside the door; deliveries in local area.

Nick’s Fish, Ashbourne 
Fishmonger Nicholas Lynch offers a range of different packs (€45 incl delivery); email / call 085 8511582

K O’Connell Fish, English Market, Cork City. 
Delivery in Cork area, order from list on website. Call 021 427 6380 / email Minimum order €30.

Star Sea Foods Cork 
Free deliveries in Cork area; minimum spend only €10.

Quinlans Kerry Fish Caherciveen and branches 
Leading Kerry fishmongers and smokers, the Quinlan family have their own boats, a smokery and several restaurants. They normally operate a national order and delivery service and currently offer a call and collect service at their shops, see details on their website / FB page.

Gannet Fishmongers, Galway 
Famous Galway fishmonger Stefan Griesbach operates Gannet Fishmongers and its online branch, EatMoreFish. Very well organised, plus Pantry section including a seaweed range

Starcrest Seafoods, Laghey 
Long established Donegal business Starcrest Seafoods recently established a dedicated home delivery website Port2Door servung the north-east, including parts of Northern Ireland (and also Athlone). Minimum order €35, free delivery.

Goatsbridge Trout Farm Thomastown 
Not all good fish comes from the sea and Ger and Mag Kirwan’s famed trout farm has an online shop selling their fresh and smoked trout products, some imaginative hampers and and Mag’s charity cookbook, Fishwives. Delivery from €5 (free on orders over €100).

Mourne Fish Box, Kilkeel 
Father and daughter Harold Nicholson and Lisa McBride, of Mourne Seafoods Ltd, run an online operation selling boxes of freshly landed fish and seafood. Called, it supplies a variety of mixed boxes and also Carlingford Oysters, produced nearby. Prices from about £20, free delivery.


All from From Tide To Table (Epicure Press, €20 from bookshops and online with free p&p)

Crab Cakes with Coriander and Chilli
These crab cakes are really delicious and very easy to prepare. Use crab meat that is in largeish chunks and sourced the from a good fishmonger (or home cooked). For a variation with more traditional flavour, omit the chilli and use parsley instead of coriander. SERVES 4

225g/8oz white crab meat, thawed if frozen
50g/2oz spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
50g/2oz mayonnaise
75g/3oz fresh white breadcrumbs
1 small egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp sunflower oil salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serve with a lightly dressed green salad, red pepper and chilli relish (see below).

Place the crab meat in a bowl with the spring onions, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, egg, coriander and chilli. Season to taste and mix gently until well combined. Divide the mixture into eight and then shape into crab cakes.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Add the crab cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side until heated through and golden brown. Arrange the crab cakes on plates with some lightly dressed green salad and a good dollop of the red pepper and chilli relish to serve.

Red Pepper & Chilli Relish
Makes about 300ml/1/2 pint. Keeps in the fridge for up to a week.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy-based pan. Add 1 de-seeded chopped red pepper, 2 chopped red onions and 2 or 3 de-seeded chillies (to taste). Cook gently for 30 minutes until tender but not coloured, stirring regularly. Sprinkle 2 tsp sugar over the mixture and add 2 skinned and chopped tomatoes, then simmer for another 10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened. Leave to cool and then blend in a food processor or with a hand-blender, to make a thick purée. Season to taste and place in a sterilised jar. Store in the fridge and use as required.

Seared Scallops with Black Pudding and Crispy Bacon
Grainy Clonakilty black pudding from West Cork has become a favourite accompaniment for scallops, and is delicious served with bacon and classic beurre blanc sauce. Take care when making the sauce to avoid it splitting - should feel warm, not hot when tested with your finger. SERVES 4

4 rindless streaky bacon rashers
4 slices black pudding, eg Clonakilty
12 large scallops
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1/2 lemon, pips removed
25g/1oz mixed baby leaf and herb salad
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serve with warm beurre blanc sauce (see below)

Preheat the grill and arrange the bacon rashers and black pudding on the grill rack. Cook for 2-3 minutes, turning once until the rashers are crispy and the black pudding is cooked through.

Meanwhile, pat the scallops dry with some kitchen paper. Heat a large frying pan until it is quite hot. Add the sunflower oil, then add the scallops and sear over a high heat for 1 minute on each side until richly browned and crispy. Do this in batches if your frying pan is not very large. Transfer them to a plate, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste.

Place the baby salad leaf and herb salad in a bowl and season to taste. Drizzle over the extra-virgin olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice and gently toss the leaves to coat.

Arrange a mound of the dressed salad towards the back of each serving plate. Arrange the scallops around the dressed salad and pour a thin stream of the beurre blanc around the scallops. Place a piece of black pudding in the middle of each plate and top each one with a crispy rasher broken in two to serve.

Beurre Blanc: This is a simplified, stock-free version of the classic sauce. In a small heavy pan, boil 45ml/3 tbsp each of white wine vinegar and dry white wine with 2 finely chopped shallots. Add 1 tbsp double cream/crème fraîche if liked, and re-boil to a glaze. Gradually whisk in 225g/8oz very cold butter, cubed, to make a creamy sauce. Finally, bring just to a boil over high heat, whisking continuously. Strain if liked, season to taste and serve.

Brill in Tarragon and Soured Cream Sauce

Brill is a fine fish and can be good value. It is similar to turbot (which is distinguished by little lumps on the skin) and, as with all flat fish, it is best to choose larger fish if possible, to get nice chunky fillets. This appealingly fuss-free dish is very tasty and it could be made equally successfully with other flat fish such as turbot or John Dory. SERVES 4

butter, for greasing
1.5kg/3lb large brill, filleted
175ml/6fl oz cream
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sugar sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Roasted vine cherry tomatoes to serve.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Butter a dish large enough to fit the brill fillets. Place the cream in a bowl and stir in the tarragon, parsley, lemon juice and sugar. Season to taste.

Arrange the brill fillets in the buttered dish and spoon over the cream mixture to cover completely. Cover with foil, place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked through and tender.

Transfer the brill fillets onto warmed plates with the roasted vine cherry tomatoes and garnish with lemon wedges to serve.

Roasted Vine Cherry Tomatoes
If you have the oven on already, this is an excellent garnish for fish dishes - and, while keeping cherry tomatoes on the vine is attractive for presentation, regular cherry tomatoes would work equally well. For a more pronounced flavour, try adding a few unpeeled garlic cloves. SERVES 4

4 cherry tomato vines, each with 5-7 tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/Gas 6. Place the tomatoes in a small roasting tin and drizzle over the olive oil. Season to taste. Roast for 20 minutes until the tomatoes are tender and the skins have split. Serve at once.


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