You know summer has finally arrive in Ireland when you see locally grown strawberries hit the markets around the beginning of June.
During the long winter months we’re forced to eat expensive and tasteless imports flown in from god knows where. I never really bother with them especially at €5 for a small 200g punnet. Although they look pretty and can add a splash of colour to a dessert plate in the middle of December they can’t compare to the sweet and juicy homegrown ones that are so abundant right now the shops are practically giving them away.
Theres a real glut of them on the market by early July and it’s definitely a case of supply exceeding demand. I managed to pick up all the berries for this recipe soooo cheap. At just €1.25 for a large 300g punnet I bought so many I’ve been on a bit of a strawberry bender. I’ve been chopping them up and putting them in my breakfast cereal in the morning, making delicious smoothies, and devouring them with a nice dollop of cream.
Mackerel Escabèche – Fillets of fresh mackerel poached in a vinaigrette flavoured with balsamic, saffron, and spices.
I need help for my mackerel addiction. My infatuation with this fish has been going on for a while now and I can’t see it ending anytime soon. It’s just so tasty and cheap that if I see some freshly caught fillets sitting on a fish counter they somehow magically end up in my shopping basket.
I realise that not everybody shares my craving for this cheap and sustainable seafood. I’ve tried putting in on menus in various restaurants where I worked over the years and it’s never been a great seller.
People just don’t know what they’re missing. Mackerel is packed with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, as well as b vitamins to boost your immune system, and is a known antioxidant. Read More
The one must have to go along with this recipe is a big, crusty loaf of bread. You’ll need it to mop up all the sweet, briny juice that collects at the bottom of the bowl once you’ve finished devouring all the mussels.
This is a take on the french classic moules marinière. The cool thing about mussels is that there cheap, cook quickly, and are a sustainable form of aquaculture.
If you reckon you don’t like mussels then try my gratinated mussels in garlic butter. It’s another classic and the dish that turned me on to them when my uncle cooked it for me as a teenager. Shell fish and garlic butter, you can’t really go wrong! And that’s the aroma you get wafting through your kitchen when you start to cook this too. The smell of garlic been gently cooked in olive oil really gets the juices flowing.
When I’m cooking a piece of fresh fish for my dinner I like to imagine it was swimming around in the briny sea that very morning, or at least within the last 24 hours. So you can imagine my disappointment when I opened up some mackerel I’d just bought at the supermarket to find some fillets that were a bit smelly, dry and a little past their best.
I’d failed to follow the advice I’m about to give you here. Not only that, but i’d gotten a bit bamboozled at the fish counter.
Meaty monkfish with a sticky, sweet and sour sauce. Flavoured with soy.
I can still remember monkfish first appearing on restaurant menus in the early 90’s. For years it was just discarded by fisherman who were only interested in the species they could sell. And who can blame them they had to make a living after all. it was once called a poor mans lobster, and maybe it still should given how much lobster costs.
But it was adventurous chefs putting monkfish on their menus that has made this once rarely eaten species one of our most popular fish dinners. We seem to have fallen in love with monkfish, though not for its good looks (do a google search or click here to see what I mean) I think this scarey looking sea creature has probably been on nearly every menu I’ve written, and I’ve cooked it in most restaurants where I worked.
The Americans call it goose fish. A unique name for a very unique fish. Its firm, meaty texture is quite unlike any other fish. It can handle some of the tougher cooking methods too and It’s ideal for a soup or a stew because it won’t flake apart like most of its fishy counterparts. Read More
Flakey fillets of hake, packed with a herb and garlic infused butter, then fried till crunchy and golden.
My original plan was to make this recipe with cod, but Fergal my fish monger had these beautiful fillets of thick, flakey hake. They looked so fresh that they might have just jumped out of the sea and onto the counter. So I just had to buy some.
Hake is now cheaper than cod but I can remember when the opposite were true. I suppose the laws of supply and demand mean that cod been the more popular has increased in price as the cod population has diminished. But you can make this dish with any large fillet of flakey white fish. Cod, hake, whiting or haddock would all work well.
This is a fishy version of the classic Russian dish that’s normally made with chicken and was really popular in restaurants during the 80’s. I made my first Kiev at age 15 when I had a job washing pots in a local steak house. Chefs been chefs they’d ring in sick or simply not turn up for work so I was often called on to do some of the more boring jobs.