We are very lucky here in Galway to have great food outlets to choose from, from bakers and butchers to grocery and deli. These small, independent, stores are very well supported and loved by the discerning Galway shopper.
As far as fish is concerned, I give my local supermarket's counter a very wide berth, preferring instead to pick up whatever looks good in the Galway Market on Saturday, maybe some scallops or some fat tiger prawns to have that evening with a frosty glass of crisp wine after the children have gone to bed. Galway Bay Seafoods has been one of my favourite retail shops since it opened on the Docks in 2008. It is a family owned and run business with John and Noel Holland at the helm. The brothers' lifelong passion for seafood and fish makes for an impressive level of knowledge and experience.
Established in 1950, it has grown organically over more than 60 years and moved with the times. It has an easily navigated website, with helpful Twitter and Facebook accounts ready to answer any queries, managed by a dedicated marketing representative, Bridie Seoighe. The best kind of marketing it would seem, as this lady knows the product inside out, and can be found in wellies and whites on the shop floor, fillet knife in hand when the shop is busy.
I often take advantage of the free parking and generous discounts to fill my freezer with lovely silver hake, John Dory, and monkfish when it is on special offer. I have even been known to drive home with a couple of lobsters from the tank scuttling around in the boot when feeling particularly adventurous and affluent. Even if you have a wallet already bursting with loyalty cards, there is one well worth signing up for to avail of a minimum 10 per cent (often more ) discount off your purchases. They make it easy for you to throw dinner together in no time, providing a free recipe collection with simple step-by-step cooking instructions. It is one stop shopping at its finest, with a selection of Green Earth Organics vegetables and plenty of white wines already in the chiller.
Having grown up in land-locked Tipperary, fish was in short supply with little demand. Although fish appeared like clockwork on Good Friday, it was otherwise absent from most families' weekly menu and it took me a number of years to come to terms with both cooking and eating it. Not wanting my own children to miss out on the joys of seafood, it has always appeared regularly at my table. While the girls’ favourite is still good old moules mariniere, getting little ones to try to enjoy different types of fish can be tricky. If you are concerned about them finding bones and being put off by skin, don't be. Galway Bay Seafoods recently launched an excellent new family friendly fish range. There is a choice of boneless cod loin, hake or haddock fillet, conveniently portioned and perfect for a quick nutritious supper when time is short. They can be used countless different ways to appeal to even the fussiest children.
Most children love ‘constructing’ their own food from a small selection of things on offer. Set out some of these cooked fillets as well as some soft buns, shredded lettuce, cheese, and condiments and let them build their own towering fish burger. This is great with tacos and a mild salsa too. Food on a stick is also a winner, why not try kebabs with chunky cubes of fish, some cherry tomatoes, or other favoured vegetables on a skewer. Delicious griddled, pan-fried, or barbecued and served with warmed pitta bread. A little soy and honey splashed on a seared salmon fillet is another tasty way to introduce fish.
The fish mix is a must to have in the freezer, it defrosts quickly and is a perfect base for a chowder or a fish pie with hardly any chopping involved. Some of the range of ready-to-cook products also make great freezer staples. Fish fingers are usually at the top of the request list for children and you can easily make your own with one of the lovely thick cod fillets. If that is too much work, the team at Galway Bay Seafoods have done it for you. A few of their lovely golden fingers with their fat white flakes stashed in the freezer is a vast improvement on Captain Birdseye's sad orange sticks. There are more sophisticated options like salmon lattice, breaded plaice, and stuffed sole, and a particularly good Thai fishcake, all fish, no filler, and perfectly spiced. With a range of salmon and mackerel from their own smokehouse there really is a fantastic choice of products.
As we all know, fish is highly nutritious and delicious when sourced fresh and locally and we should all be eating more of it. Galway Bay Seafoods' family friendly products take all the work out of preparing fish and make for easier, faster, cooking. All of these are also available from their second retail shop, opened late last year in Lower Salthill.
Upstairs is a large spacious kitchen where the ready-to-go meals are prepared every morning and which also houses the cookery school. The company runs imaginative cookery classes with chef Daniel Craughwell, who aims to widen your seafood repertoire. Upcoming classes include a Spanish paella class on May 28 and a Moroccan seafood tagine on June 4.
Galway Bay Seafoods, New Docks, Galway, phone 091 563011/2; or 106
Lower Salthill, Galway,
phone 091 501999. Email [email protected].