Local fish delicacies

FOOD

Clarke's of Ballina have over 60 years of experience using fish from Clew Bay and the Moy River. Clarke's also offer a service to local anglers lucky enough to land their own memento of the river Moy, they will smoke their catch.

Yes, you can get oak-smoked salmon here in the county. How fresh is that? I know that smoked salmon is a fantastic starter on its own, but I have a little twist to make a modern starter.

Mayo smoked salmon with pan fried potato cake

This is Mayo smoked salmon with a pan fried scallion potato cake, with horseradish and leaves, will feed four people.

Ingredients

1lb Mayo smoked salmon

4 tablespoons of creamed horseradish

Some mixed leaves

4 oz. cooked mashed potatoes

4 oz. plain flour

1 egg yolk

1 bunch scallions finely chopped

Seasoning

Method

In a bowl, mix the mash, flour, egg, scallions and seasoning together. Mix well and shape into four equal sized balls and then press them flat. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry the potato cakes on a low heat until brown and crispy on both sides.

Get your fishmonger to slice the smoked salmon for you and three nice slices per plate is ideal as a starter. To serve, put a potato cake on each plate, place the smoked salmon beside each cake and add some horseradish sauce to give a bit of a zing. Serve with a bowl of dressed leaves.

That simple! Fresh locally caught smoked fish, spuds and sauce, how Irish is that? What a beautiful start to any meal, I'm sure you will agree.

If you can, please buy local. The quality is superb and it keeps the jobs in the county which is obviously very important for Mayo.

Seafood chowder

Chowder is basically a creamy fish soup, the secret is to not overcook the fish, so a basic stock is needed first and then you simply add the fish and cream. Chowder is served with crusty white rolls, or homemade brown bread.

On the docks in San Francisco, the chefs serve the chowder in a bowl of bread that is crusty on the outside and hollowed out so the soup can be placed inside, when you’ve finished the soup, you can then eat the bread bowl, very clever!

Boston Clam chowder is classic chowder, but here on our little island, I think we make the best chowder in the world.

If you look up the internet, you will find many varieties of chowder from many celebrity Irish chefs, Fishy Fishy in Cork for example adds a dollop of cream on top as a garnish and doesn’t incorporate it in the dish, yet their chowder is renowned worldwide.

Some chefs add peppers and sweet corn to the mix, and although it may add colour (we eat with our eyes ), it is not altogether necessary, as long as you have the intense flavours of fresh seafood in the soup.

Everywhere that I have worked in Mayo, the basic chowder has always been the same. We make a base first and add the seafood just before we serve the soup.

Anyway, here is my version.

Firstly, you need a great fish stock.

Prawn shells or fish bones cooked with onion, celery and carrots, with water and fresh herbs for about 20 minutes is the business. Then strain the stock into a clean saucepan and bring to the boil. Melt a little butter in a new saucepan, and mix in some flour to make a roux, and then slowly add your lovely fish stock to form a thick-ish soup.

This can be cooled and refrigerated in advance if you want, but I would basically add any raw fresh diced fish to this base and a nice splash of cream, a drop of white wine and cook until the fish is ready, about five to six minutes usually.

Any fish can be used, but I like to put in scrubbed mussels, prawns, cod and a smoked fish like Coley or haddock if I have it. Seafood Chowder changes every day in our restaurant depending on the delivery of fresh fish, but I believe that’s the way to do it, to ensure a beautifully creamy result every time.

Of course you can add vegetables to the basic strained stock if need be, and fennel gives a lovely flavour to good chowder if you have it available!

If you have any food related questions, please feel free to contact me on [email protected] and I will do my best to help you.

Next weekend its Easter so I hope to share some seasonal recipes with you so don’t forget to pick up the Mayo Advertiser next Friday.

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