Gráinne O’Keefe: Simple fish recipes that won’t leave you floundering

Fish doesn’t have to be breaded or battered. Here are three different ways to create a tasty fish dinner

When I was growing up, the only fish that I knew was either breaded or battered, and usually served with a side of baked beans or some chips (sometimes both and sandwiched between some sliced white pan). Don’t get me wrong, there are fewer comfort foods as tasty as a breaded fish sandwich, and it’s on par with crispy pancakes and sugar sandwiches (another day’s story) on the nostalgia scale. But I feel like Ireland has fallen out of love with fish as a dinner staple.

It took culinary training for me to be able to identify the different types of fish and how to cook them. It is very common for Irish people to have grown up with fish always cooked well-done, and never on the bone, or in its whole form.

The following recipes are very different, but also are all very simple. The key to good fish is buying it fresh, and smelling of the sea. I get my fish from Niall Sabongi of Sustainable Seafood Ireland (SSI), who sells online. A good fishmonger is the same as a butcher: they will always be able to recommend based on what you are looking for, and butcher the fish to your requirements. Always ask to see the gills (they should be bright red), and then ask for the fish to be gutted and scaled to save you the hassle.

Here are a few useful tips for cooking fish:


Always leave the fish out of the fridge for an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature, so that when it hits the pan it doesn’t lower the temperature of the oil and stick.

Flour flat white fish (such as sole and megrim) before cooking, to stop it sticking to the pan.

Use any trimmings to make fish cakes or fish pies.

Recipe: Pan fried sole, bacon, caper and lemon butter

Recipe: Cod en papillote, lemon and herb butter

Recipe: Smoked haddock fishcakes, sauce gribiche