During the last few days we heard the sad news about the Harvest Wine Shop in Oranmore and my heart goes out to all who worked there. I hope everyone will find a job in the near future. However, there was also some good news in Oranmore as a new fresh fish shop called Ali’s Fish Shop opened. Regular readers may remember I mentioned his other shop in Barna when it opened in 2010, Ali is obviously a courageous man and all I can say is “fair play to him”.
Ali’s Fish Shop is located in the new Oranmore Tesco Shopping Centre, and is a fantastic fresh fish shop with as good a selection as any in the 26 counties. As someone who lives that side of town it will make the weekly buying of fish a lot easier than driving in to town. The new shopping centre is extremely easy to access from the roundabout at the Maldron Hotel, and once you come up from the underground car park you are right at the front door of both Ali’s Fish Shop and Tesco. It is therefore just a five minute detour if you are on your way to Loughrea, Gort, Kinvara, or Craughwell. No parking issues, no fines, not affected by weather, and no traffic. I realise that some people do not like underground car parks as they are often packed and difficult to negotiate, not this one, it is bright, spacious, and spotlessly clean.
Ali is passionate about fish and he travels in the region of 60,000 kilometres each year to bring the very best quality fresh fish every day from ports as far away as Skibbereen, Dingle, Castletownbere, Ballycotton, and of course Rossaveal.
Ali does not just buy any fish at these ports, he will only buy fish that has been landed in boats with smaller nets or line caught. The reason for this is that if you think about many of the pictures on television of massive nets hauling in fish you will have some idea as to how fish can be damaged as it is brought on to the boat. Smaller boats guarantee first class condition fish and that is very important for both restaurants and the consumer. Ali supplies most of the very best restaurants in Connacht through his wholesale business called Four Leaf Clover. People like Ali and his staff are a resource to customers, ask them what is freshest, ask them what specials are available, ask how to cook the fish. They will trim and fillet anything you ask them to do, so all you have to do is go straight to the oven, pan, or saucepan.
As a nation of people surrounded by fish we are very poor fish eaters. Firstly we seem to be addicted to salmon and cod, and even then we seem to think that it is a once a week purchase. A staggering 85 per cent of all fish caught in Irish waters is exported, mainly to Spain. Also, a lot of fish on sale in Ireland is imported, even some common species like plaice. During the next few weeks there will be a new label for Irish caught fish called Responsible Irish Fish. Keep an eye out for it and do support it.
If you would like to be adventurous in 2011 and need a few ideas, try some flat fish like plaice or lemon sole, they are great dipped in beaten egg yolk/milk, then dipped in breadcrumbs and fried in good oil with a touch of butter. To serve, just add a squeeze of lemon and tartar sauce. Try some squid, just slice thinly into rings and fry in oil/butter/garlic, count to about 30 and serve.
I was listening to a programme about fish in Ireland on Radio One last Saturday and the interviewer was talking to people in Howth who were buying fish. Most said they would buy more if they had a fish shop nearer to home. One lady had travelled from Shankill near Bray to Howth and does so each week. Here in Galway we are spoiled rotten with the abundance of fish shops so you have no excuse. Call in and see the selection and this week you will be able to buy fresh Galway mussels for €3 a kilo, haddock fillets for €10.50 per kg, large shrimp for €11 per kg, and if you want to spoil yourself try halibut fillets at €28 per kg.