Whenever someone is talking about what the emerald island is mostly known for, your mind sure goes to Gunnies and Irish whiskey. Apart from its striking scenery, rich history, and mouth-watering traditional dishes, Ireland is famous for its fresh seafood dishes as well.
Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to its west, the Celtic Sea to its south and the Irish Sea to its east, Ireland is such a prized location for all the luscious seafood. From fresh salmon to Dublin Bay prawns, Ireland is a big exporter and producer of seafood and has been thriving in the last decade.
But before we dive into some of our favourite Irish seafood dishes, let’s know more about the types of fish caught from the waters of the emerald island.
Types of Fish
Surrounded by water, Ireland is one of those countries that has a steady supply of high-quality fish swimming around the island. This has allowed Irish chefs to prepare all kinds of classic to contemporary seafood dishes that are just mouthwatering and delightful. While there are many types of fish in the Irish waters, only a few of them make an appearance on the menus.
Salmon in Ireland is very popular with the locals. You would find almost every restaurant with a seafood menu has a salmon dish on it, or it would be incorporated into some of the most famous dishes like seafood coddle or Irish seafood chowder. Irish salmon used to be caught with big nets, but this practice has stopped due to overfishing. Nowadays, Irish salmon is organically farmed, and they are only fed organic food to ensure high quality.
Although Irish salmon is found in many classic seafood dishes, the Irish smoked salmon dish still stands superior. One of the best places to eat Irish smoked salmon in Ireland is Burren Smokehouse in Doolin, County Clare. Make sure to pay it a visit if you are planning to visit Cliffs of Moher!
Irish pollock is popular white-skinned fish that is often used in place of haddock or cod when unavailable. It has a strong flavour, and it is a very versatile fish. Irish pollock is rich in protein and contains several types of omega-3. Due to being versatile, it can be found in many Irish seafood dishes such as Irish seafood chowder and fish ‘n chips.
Hake is from the same family as cod – it is loaded with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids and has a very minimum fat percentage. This meaty fish has a subtle and delicate flavour which makes it ideal for many methods of cooking, such as pan frying, baking, steaming, and poaching.
It may not be the most beautiful fish out there in the ocean, but it sure is delicious. The wild Irish monkfish is also called the sea devil, maybe because of its looks, but it is a very tasty fish that is the base of some of the most mouthwatering dishes. This meaty fish is often used in stews and curries as it has a mild and sweet flavour.
Along with pollock and cod, Irish haddock is the fish most often used to make fish ‘n chips. Its meat is flaky and tastes similar to cod, but it is a little sweeter and richer. This makes it perfect for frying, pan frying, baking, and poaching.
Not many might be familiar with this, but ray wings are very popular on the emerald island. A ray wing is high in collagen and that results in a very unique texture. It is a very versatile fish that can be fried, roasted, or poached.
Types of Shellfish
Irish waters are not just home to a whole variety of fish but also different types of shellfish and crustaceans. From mussels to prawns, you will find some amazing dishes to munch on if you are a shellfish lover.
Irish oysters are very popular among the Irish. The sweet and salty taste that these Irish oysters have are what any shellfish lover wants. Their firm, juicy meat sets them apart from other oysters.
Found in menus of pubs to Michelin star restaurants, Irish mussels are a delightful dish to have while in Ireland. Irish mussels are known for their ‘ocean’ flavour and firm meat. When cooked, they have a delicate yet slightly chewy texture. They are paired well with butter and garlic or cream!
Dublin Bay Prawns
Dublin bay prawns go by many different names, including Norway lobsters, langoustine, and scampi. Although their name may indicate that they come from Dublin Bay, that is actually not true. They are found in the Irish Sea, the Celtic Sea, and off the West coast of Ireland. They have a sweet taste and a firm texture and are best when prepared simply with lemon and garlic.
Irish Seafood Dishes
Want to taste Ireland in just one bowl? Then Irish seafood chowder is your go-to! This dish is present on nearly all the menus of restaurants, and it shouldn’t be missed. A proper bowl of Irish seafood chowder has salmon, mussels, and white fish such as haddock or pollock. Vegetables such as carrots, onions, potatoes, leeks, and celery are also added with double cream. This is surely going to be your favourite winter dish.
Irish Fish Pie
A list of Irish seafood dishes wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the famous Irish fish pie. A mixture of shredded white fish like haddock and prawns or other shellfish is added to the white sauce and topped off with a layer of mashed potatoes. The white sauce consists of milk, butter, and flour. The whole casserole is put into the oven till the mashed potatoes layer gets crispy, and it is served piping hot.
Grilled Dublin Bay Prawns
This is a simple yet scrumptious dish. Freshly caught Dublin bay prawns are perfect for a grill night. They get cut in half and grilled over an open flame. A creamy sauce consisting of butter, garlic, and herbs is served along.
Fish ‘n Chips
This one is a classic. If you’re ever in Ireland, you have to try them. There is just something about traditional fish ‘n chips that makes you want to eat more and more of it. The fish batter is usually made with water and flour, with a little bit of baking soda to give it this extra crunch. Guinness can replace water as the carbon dioxide in the beer makes the batter lighter. Cod and haddock are usually used in fish ‘n chips, but some vendors replace them with hake or pollock. They are served with some chips and curry sauce or gravy upon your request.
Irish Oysters and Guinness
This is a classic pairing in Ireland and has been around for many and many years. There is just something about this couple. Irish raw oysters have a salty and briny flavour that just goes too well with the sweetness and creaminess of the Guinness.
Skate (Ray) in Brown Butter
This may sound weird to some, but to the Irish, it is one of their favourite fish to have. Skate (or ray) is an extremely popular fish to eat in Ireland. It can be used in making fish ‘n chips, but this dish is more fulfilling and delicious. The skate cut gets placed in a saucepan with onions, bay leaves, parsley, salt, lemon juice, and water. The skate cut gets cooked with all these aromatics, and the best part follows. In another saucepan, butter is added and melted till it gets brown, with white wine vinegar, capers, and salt. Brown butter is then drizzled on the skate cut, and now you can enjoy the buttery and rich dish.
Lobster with whiskey cream, anyone? Count me in!
This dish is a real Irish treat. It got its name from its richness (rich as Dublin lawyers). And it is definitely rich! The whiskey-laced creamy sauce with the rich and fleshy meat of the lobster can make all your taste buds dance in unison. This dish is typically served over rice, but you can also have it along with Irish soda bread. And don’t forget your wine for an extra luxurious experience!