Dress your fish for flavour


CLASSIC COMBO Salmon fillet with a delicate Hollandaise sauce.

The Cabots

A delightful autumn with warm, dry evenings full of summer’s bounty kept us happy and content. One fine evening, Colette and Pat Lavelle gifted a bucket of silver and blue iridescent mackerel from the last day of their summer’s fishing. David Lyewellyn was visiting that night with his family, bringing gifts of magical wines produced from Lusk, County Dublin.
David has tried to grow varieties of cabernet sauvignon grapes in the midlands but the climate did not suit. In Lusk, he found the perfect land and microclimate to indulge his indisputable passion. He produces still red wines and a uniquely spectacular version of Champagne. While not allowed to call it Champagne, because of French and European laws, it is made in the tradition of the famous sparkling wine – semi-sweet in style, with a considerable complexity and ‘length’. Soft, bubbly and appealing, it contained layers of complex flavours and minerality that put in on a par with some of the most enjoyable Champagnes I have drunk.
Matching the classiness of his produce, I produced two concrete blocks and an old grill top, and proceeded to light a fire of sticks and twigs between the two blocks, in the back garden, beside the henhouse. The wood burned to embers, and we laid the gutted and washed whole mackerel onto the grill with nothing more than a brush of oil and sprinkling of salt.
Observing patience, we allowed the fish to cook, skin slowly blistering, and turned the fish after five or six minutes. In another five minutes and the fish was cooked. Sitting on deckchairs, we ate from plates on our knees, enjoying the mackerel with potatoes from the Ryder family in Carrowholly and drinking David’s delicious creation.
The evening of catching up and chats, thanks to the basic elements of fire and food, reminded us it is always more enjoyable to consume food and drink when you know where it comes from.
While we enjoyed a mixture of mayonnaise, crushed garlic and squeezed lemon juice with our grilled mackerel night, here are two home-made sauces that will go great with a variety of fish. Try them, tweak them if you wish – always experiment!

Classic lemon butter
A classic lemon butter sauce is perfect for use with all white fish. The key to this is what’s called ‘brown butter’, or ‘beurre noisette’, by the French. It takes on a nutty quality. This requires a ‘little’ bit of cooking – but not burning!

What you need

  • 45g butter cubes
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

What you do
Drop your cubes of butter into a heated pan. Stir while butter melts, and cook for about two or three minutes – until the colour changes somewhat brown – then simply add the lemon juice, season and serve over your cooked fish.

Lime and soy
Introduce an Asian edge to proceedings with a lime and soy dressing. This goes particularly well with grilled mackerel, or try it with salmon.

What you need

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp of peeled, diced ginger
  • Half tsp brown sugar

What you do  
Simply combine all ingredients in a pan and heat slowly, until all the sugar has dissolved. Serve up with the cooked fish, spooning your dressing over the portions.
Another classic. This is easy to make and easy to use with a wide variety of fish, just be mindful not to overcook it.

What you need

  • 2 free-range egg yolks
  • 120g butter diced
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water

What you do
Add the egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and touch of water to a heavy-based pan on the lowest possible heat. As the butter melts, use a whisk to keep it mixed. Do not stop whisking, and don’t increase the heat.
When the sauce is well melted and combined remove it from the heat and pour it into a chilled bowl to make sure it doesn’t keep cooking. (Over-cooking this mixture leads to lumpy scrambled egg – you have been warned!)
Serve up this delicate sauce with your fish and enjoy!

— Redmond

The Cabot family live and work in Lanmore, outside Westport. Fresh, seasonal foods are their passion, from country markets to growing, making and selling. They love cooking and eating at the kitchen table, while Redmond and Sandra are kept on their toes with children Penny and Louis. Here they share their favourite recipes.