How to modernise your full Irish breakfast with seafood

JP McMahon: Try swapping sausages for scallops and bacon for hot smoked mackerel

Is Ireland the only country in the European Union where it is illegal to hand dive for scallops? Photograph: iStock

Scallops in the shell are still a rare find in Ireland, and as hand diving is illegal (but dredging is not) we still have a way to go to make our scallop industry world class. Is Ireland the only country in the European Union where it is illegal to hand dive for scallops?

One a recent trip to Donegal I got to experience first hand the amazing quality of our scallops, eating one straight out of the shell, washed down with just enough seawater to season its pulsating flesh.

Mushrooms are back on the menu at my restaurants Aniar and Tartare after our hiatus. The amazing maitake comes from Garryhinch Wood in Co Offaly while our girolles are picked by hand by our forager Brian Gannon. Mushrooms and scallops pair perfectly.

In Aniar, we made a broth from the maitake (with a few button mushrooms) and poured this over raw sliced scallop. The temperature of the broth was enough to gently cook the sweet and slightly salted scallop. At Tartare, we pan-fried both the scallops and the girolles in foaming butter and thyme and deglazed the lot with some dry Irish cider. The dish was finished with sea aster, a salty sea herb that is picked by Thalli foods, foragers based in Co Clare.


Scallops and black pudding

We're all obsessed with sausages for breakfast, but how about swapping them for scallops for a 21st-century take on the full Irish? It is said the late Gerry Galvin invented the combination of scallops and black pudding at his restaurant, Drimcong House in Moycullen. Though perhaps it was his close friend Myrtle Allen who first paired them together at Ballymaloe House?

Whoever did it first, it’s now a well-established Irish pairing. We’ve had it on the menu in Cava for nearly 12 years, with cauliflower purée and lardo. But perhaps the next time you’re having an Irish breakfast, maybe add a little shellfish to it in the form of pan-fried scallops. Maybe you could go even further and replace your bacon with some hot smoked mackerel.