Just add fire: the best way to prepare a seafood salad
Venture out of your comfort zone, get some good Irish seafood and cook it over an open flame
Illustration: Getty Images
A seafood salad is generally something I run a mile from on any menu. Usually you get presented with some poached imported prawns or smoked salmon from God knows where (not Ireland, in any case) with mixed leaves from just north of the Sahara.
But seafood salads are not always like this. There are some places on the island that champion our native produce and use it to great effect on their daily menus. I’m thinking everywhere from Chapter One to Klaw (they know how to cook seafood there). Upon encountering an image of an ancient midden bed (scorched earth and mixed broken shells), I was inspired to create a seafood salad of primordial proportions that evoked this bronze age mess of discarded detritus. It would have to be packed with everything our coast offers: crabs, scallops, langoustines, mussels, clams, oysters, sea urchins, periwinkles and abalones.
But how do you get all this in a salad and still ensure it is in keeping with some bronze age warrior tucking down for his tea. In my imagination, I lit a fire and stoked it until only hot embers remained. I put each piece of shellfish gently into the ashes until they opened (mussels, clams, oysters and scallops) or until they were cooked through (langoustines, lobster, crab). I then laid them all out on a rough wooden platter with a some good rapeseed oil, cider vinegar and sea salt. Instead of salad leaves, I picked some sea vegetables (seabeet, sea purslane or orache) and seaweed (channelled wrack, sea lettuce).
Of course, doing this at home is a different story. More is always somehow possible in your imagination. My point, however, is that most of us have the ability to cook seafood simply over flames (your rusty barbecue, for example). It can be lit any time and used to grill mussels, oysters and clams, and even your seaweed. I entreat you this year then to try and venture out of your comfort zone, to go out and get some good Irish seafood and cook it over open flame. A new website, eatmorefish.ie, will deliver Irish fish to your door.