“Ireland’s shores and coastal waters teem with shellfish that is as good as any on earth,” said Colman Andrews in The Country Cooking of Ireland (Chronicle Books). These cold northern waters make an ideal habitat for the “sweet-fleshed spiny spider crabs and meaty Atlantic lobsters,” whose taste is prized across Europe. Yet locals feast on lobster, too, frequently served alongside traditional fried Irish potato cakes, known as fadge.
Recipe of the week
Lobster in Foaming Butter
There is much controversy about the best way to cook lobsters; the method below is considered humane.
2 live lobsters (about 2 lbs)
750 ml dry white wine
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
10 tbsp butter
Put lobsters into large pot; cover with lukewarm water; bring to simmer over medium heat, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put 2 cups water, wine, carrot, onion, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf into large pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat. When lobster pot has begun to simmer and lobsters start to turn red, transfer them to pot with wine and vegetables. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and steam for about 20 minutes, or until lobsters turn bright red. Remove lobsters and set them aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. When lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove claws and carefully extract meat. Halve lobsters lengthwise and remove meat. Scrape out and discard the soft, green tomalley and other materials remaining in shells. Rinse and dry shells. Put shells, cut side up, on baking sheet in oven to warm. Cut lobster body meat into 1- to 1½-inch pieces, keeping claws intact. Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to foam, 1 to 2 minutes. Add lobster meat and toss until just heated through. Remove shells from oven and fill with lobster. Serve with melted butter and pan juices in a small bowl on the side. Serves 4.
Fadge (Potato Cakes)
1 tbsp butter, softened, plus 4 tbsp butter or bacon fat
1 tsp salt
4 cups freshly made mashed potatoes
½ to ¾ cup white flour, plus more for dusting
In medium bowl, mix salt and 1 tbsp butter into potatoes. Using hands, work in enough flour to form pliable dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured board and shape into a round about ¾ inches thick. Cut into 8 wedges. Melt butter or bacon fat in large skillet and fry wedges for about 5 minutes per side, turning once, or until cakes are golden brown.