Summer Seafood

ShellfishWhether you’re in a smart seafood restaurant such as The King Sitric of Howth or O'Connors of Bantry, relaxing in a pub like Mary Ann's in Castletownshend or The Lobster Pot in Carne – or in your own back garden, this is the perfect time of year to make the most of seafood from Irish coastal waters. Quickly cooked and easily served with accompaniments that can be prepared ahead, seafood is ideal for barbecues and summer salads and entertaining.

But preparing seafood can seem daunting and, until recently, were no comprehensive cookbooks on specifically Irish fish and seafood. But cookbooks are like buses – for ages there’s nothing at all available on a particular topic, then all of a sudden two or three come along at once.

Following hot on the heels of our own recent ‘seafood bible’ From Tide To Table, for example, comes The Seafood Lover’s Cookbook (Estragon €15) by Martin Shanahan of the renowned Fishy Fishy restaurants and fish shop in Kinsale and author/publisher Sally McKenna, and also Clodagh McKenna’s Fresh From The Sea (Gill & Macmillan paperback, €19.99) to partner her new RTE TV series, which was produced and directed by David Hare with support from BIM. (As Daniel O’Connell once did, David travels to work from his beautiful home on the Ring of Kerry – check out the wonderfully remote Iskeroon at Caherdaniel on our website if you’d like to stay there.)

Fresh From The Sea by Clodagh McKennaFresh From The Sea is a lively, colourful and accessible book that will tempt many a reluctant fish cook into the kitchen – and, generously sprinkled with photographs of Clodagh as well as delicious Irish seafood, it is sure to be a hit with fans of her first book and TV series, Fresh From The Farmers Market. You’ll find shopping advice, ‘how to’ diagrams and lots of recipes using species fished in Irish waters to encourage home cooks to see fish and seafood as a quick and appealing option – also guidance on where and what to buy, plus profiles of key people and their businesses which adds depth to the seafood experience by giving an insight into Irish fishing/producing, processing and retailing.

The Galway IngredientOn a slightly different tack, over in the west, a small group of Euro-Toques chefs (members of the non-elitist international chefs’ organisation dedicated to safeguarding culinary heritage) got together to celebrate the food of the area - and the recent Volvo Ocean Race stopover - in a DIY recipe book, The Galway Ingredient (click for more).

Teagasc gave some welcome support, but it was produced on a tight budget and the standard is a credit to those involved, notably Michael O’Meara (Oscars Bistro) who is as handy with a camera as a set of knives (, and editor Gerry Galvin.

Gerry Galvin's Seafood CoddleGerry Galvin's Seafood Coddle (from The Galway Ingredient)
Gerry Galvin – original chef-patron of The Vintage in 1970’s Kinsale and later of the renowned Drimcong House Restaurant at Moycullen, Co Galway, food writer and Euro-Toques consultant chef – edited The Galway Ingredient recipe book and contributed several of his own famously straightforward recipes. “This dish is simplicity itself,” he says, “I have always liked broth/stock based, light fish soups and this one started in Drimcong many moons ago.  I call it Coddle because of its comforting quality and it qualifies for the Coddle title because of its closeness to the traditional Dublin Coddle, albeit with fish/seafood rather than sausage and bacon.  It is also so versatile - any fish will do.” Savoury rice is a good accompaniment.

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Seafood Paella by Clodagh McKennaSeafood Paella by Clodagh McKenna

“A beautiful-looking, robust dish, paella is served all over Spain in many different forms, but its place of origin is Valencia,” says Clodagh McKenna in Fresh From The Sea. “The main ingredient is rice, typically short-grained calasparra rice grown in the mountains of the Spanish province of Murcia. A traditional paella pan is anything from seven inches to a yard across, with low sides about an inch and a half high that flare out slightly at the top and two large handles at the side.

The pans don’t come with a lid because paella is not cooked with a lid on. Usually made of carbon steel, they do require seasoning before cooking and will rust if they are left wet, so do wipe them with a coating of olive oil after cooking. The authentic way to cook paella is over an open barbecue with kindling wood, but it tastes just as good cooked well in a domestic kitchen."

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Clodagh McKenna's Perfect Family Fish Pie

Clodagh McKenna’s Perfect Family
Fish Pie

“I hope you will use this recipe a lot” says Clodagh, “As it doesn’t need many ingredients, is simple and fast to make and all the family will love it.”

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Hake Seared in a Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade by Clodagh McKenna

Hake Seared in a Sun-dried Tomato Tapenade

Clodagh uses hake for this recipe, but you can use any firm white round fish fillet.

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