The Seafood Lovers Cookbook – Martin Shanahan and Sally McKenna

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I love when another new Irish cook book lands on my desk and this one is good news for the many Fishy Fishy fans. Martin Shanahan – chef proprietor of the legendary Fishy Fishy Café in Kinsale – has teamed up once again with Sally McKenna of Bridgestone Guide fame. This impressive duo have produced a sequel to ‘Fresh Seafood Cookery Book’, published in 2006, another gem called ‘The Seafood Lovers Cookbook’ published by Estragon, is easy to find, the real challenge is to find spanking fresh fish. For the past few years we have been frequently in despair at the quality of the ‘fresh fish’ we were offered. Problem is that as fish stocks dwindle boats are forced to travel further afield and are often at sea for 3 or 5 days. Consequently some of the ‘fresh fish’ may be five days old when it’s landed; hence ‘today’s catch’ takes on a whole new meaning. It will of-course have been iced down which helps to preserve the fish. Nonetheless it is a totally different product – nothing can hold a candle to carefully handled day boat fish, landed on the day it is caught, still stiff and glistening. This kind of fish for many people is now a ‘forgotten flavour’ coupled with the fact that most fish is whizzed off to the wholesalers and auctions, so few local people in coastal areas can manage to get fresh fish.  Unless you are fortunate enough to have access to a fisherman who will sell directly to local people and local restaurants.  If you have such a treasure in your area, support them and be prepared to pay a little more for this superior product. When fish is really fresh the less you do to it the better, simply pan grill or poach and serve with good Irish butter or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few fresh herbs or a simple sauce.

When you buy fish, ask lots of questions, is it fresh, where was it caught, is it Irish? Fresh fish is food for the gods; stale fish is a total waste of money and a real challenge for the cook. That’s where all the fancy sauces and twiddles and bows on top come in when you have to mask a stale taint or compensate for the fact that the flavour wasn’t there in the first place.
So how can you tell when fish is fresh? The fish itself will look bright and glistening, the gills will be fresh. Fresh fish or shellfish doesn’t smell at all fishy. If you were blindfolded you would scarcely be able to work out by smelling that it was fish. When the eyes are sunken the fish could be five to six days old – time to be throwing it out – even the cat won’t be tempted. It’s worth being able to judge for yourself so you can choose the best.
With mounting evidence of the imbalance of Omega 3’s and the Omega 6’s in our diet, the need to eat fresh fish to boost our stocks of Omega 3’s has never been more urgent. I think you’ll find Martin and Sally’s contemporary and simple seafood recipes and the shopping guide to fish retailers throughout the country to be an invaluable resource. I would like to add another less well known name to the list. Local day boat fisherman, Tadhg O’Riordan of Ballycotton – comes from a long line of sustainable fishermen. His wife Brenda (086-1704085) delivers superb fresh fish and only fresh fish to the door for which we feel truly blessed and grateful.

The ‘The Seafood Lovers Cookbook’ can be sourced at www.bridgestoneguide.com or Amazon.co.uk (The Seafood Lover’s Cookbook)

Squid with Chorizo

1 cup aged balsamic vinegar (3-5 year old)
¼ cup sugar
300g squid
1 fresh chorizo
wild rocket

Put the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and boil until it has reduced by half.
Cut the squid lengthways and score the inside of the squid with a sharp knife, cutting a little way through the surface, but not right through. Then dice the squid into pieces about 2½ cm square.
Pan fry the squid over a high heat along with the diced chorizo. Cook for about a minute before putting on the plate and topping with some wild rocket. Drizzle over some of the reduced vinegar. These quantities make enough for about two servings.

Shellfish Crumble

100g breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
double portion of lemon butter sauce
200g white crab meat
150g fresh prawns
150g shrimps

Mix the breadcrumbs with the very finely chopped garlic and the parsley.
Make up a double portion of Lemon Butter Sauce (see page 25 for recipe). This will make a little more than you need, but Lemon Butter Sauce has a thousand other uses, so don’t fret.
When you are nearly ready to serve the crumble, divide the fish between four to six single serving oven-proof dishes. Pour some sauce over each one and scatter liberally with the breadcrumb mixture.
Cook the crumbles in an oven pre-heated to 200ºC for around 10 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are crispy (watch – they burn easily) and the mixture is hot right through.

Crab Claws in Lemon Butter Sauce

500g crab claws
275ml lemon butter sauce
parsley oil
sweet chilli sauce

Toss the crab claws in the lemon butter sauce. Drizzle over some parsley oil and sweet chilli sauce.

Rocket Oil/Parsley Oil

200g rocket or parsley
2 cups olive oil

Blanch the parsley or rocket (including stems) in boiling water for about 10-15 seconds. Refresh in a bowl of iced water. Drain and dry in a salad spinner. Blend 1 cup of oil with the herbs in a blender. Add the second cup of oil. Pour through a paper coffee filter into a jug and then bottle. Stored in the fridge this oil will keep well for a week.

Lemon Butter Sauce

275ml cream
80g butter
juice of 1 lemon
salt and white pepper

Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook over a moderately high heat until it reduces to a thick sauce.


Butterflied grilled Mackerel with Peanut Sauce

Peanut sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 chillies, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
100g roasted salted peanuts
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon honey

4 whole mackerel
olive oil for brushing

First make the sauce. Place all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and pulse until the sauce just comes together.
Brush the mackerel with oil and grill under a hot grill for about 8 minutes. Serve with the sauce.

Roast Cod with parsley mash

Parsley Mash

20g parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
8-10 potatoes, peeled
salt and pepper

4 portions of thickly-cut fresh cod fillets
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Blend the parsley and olive oil in a food processor. Boil and mash the potatoes and whisk in the parsley oil and season. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Place an ovenproof pan on a high heat, and leave for 5 minutes until the pan is hot. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Add the olive oil to the pan; it should glisten and cover the base of the pan with a glossy film of very hot oil. Place the fish onto this searing heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Place the whole pan in the oven for a further 2-3 minutes until the fish is milky white and firm to the touch.

Salt and Chilli Squid

750g squid
50g rice flour
50g potato flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
oil for deep frying
sweet chilli sauce

Slice the squid into fine rings. Combine the flours and seasoning on a plate. Heat the oil to 170ºC.
Dredge the squid in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and immediately deep fry. Do this in batches. Drain the squid on kitchen paper and serve immediately with Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Fool Proof Food

Fish Stock

Heads and bones of 1 ½ kg flat fish
1 carrott, scrubbed and chopped roughly
1 onion, peeled and halved
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 bay leaves
10 crushed black peppercorns
3 litres water

Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Skim the surface of the foam that will gather, and then simmer for absolutely no more than 15 minutes. Strain.

Thrifty Tip

Ask your fishmonger for fish bones – you may even get them for free – and make a fine pot of fish stock it only takes 15 – 20 minutes to make. Use for soups, stew and sauces.

Hot Tips

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Ladybird Organic Farm in Tipperary has come up with a novel way of reducing the carbon footprint of visitors to farmers’ markets. All cyclists who come shopping on their bikes to the Ladybird Organic Farm stall at Farmers’ Markets in Tipperary get a 10% reduction on their purchases of home-grown eggs, beef and pork.

Ladybird Organic Farm is one of the heroes of organic farming and wants to reward like-minded buyers who purchase their organic eggs, gourmet beef burgers, 21-day dry-aged beef, rare breed rashers, pork shoulders and legs and farmhouse sausages. The 10% discount applies to the end of May and is, according to Stella Coffey, a way that people can help the environment while supporting local food. 052-42816

Silk Purse Evening Food and Drink Parlour

An Cruibin, celebrates its first year of existence with the official launch of The Silk Purse, on Thursday 30th April at 8pm. The restaurant, where elegance and debauchery go hand on hand, is located above the music venue The Lobby, 1 Union Quay, Cork city. To book telephone 021 4310071. For raucous, delicate, compassionate, uncouth and heady cuisine in tres chic et risque ambience.

Nude Food Another Gem in Dungarvan

Charismatic cook and Farmers Market organiser Louise Clark opened Nude Food in Dungarvan, Co Waterford in September 2008 and when we called in there last weekend the place was packed with people queuing at the door for a table. They source most of their food locally; suppliers include Arbutus Breads, Ardsallagh Cheese and Green Saffron Spices. Louise tells me her roasted Mediterranean vegetables served with hummus on the side is a best seller as is the spicy lamb burger served in a Broadway bagel. (058) 24594 nakedlunch@vodafone.ie

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Darina Allen
By Darina Allen

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