An Irish Fishmonger Inspires a Meal

The following is a guest post by Jessie Voigts of

The foodie town of Kenmare, Ireland, comes alive on Wednesdays, when the weekly Kenmare Market runs.  Kenmare is a gem on both the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, was founded in the 1670s, and is well known for great food and plenty of outdoor activities. The Kenmare Market is located streetside, on the open plaza across the street from the park.

While we bought plenty of deliciousness, including herbed olives, marinated mozzarella, hand cured charcuterie, homemade tea, newly dug carrots, potatoes, onions, fresh tomatoes, herbs, and smoked fish, what stood out for me was the Fish Stand.

The genial man running the fish stand not only laughed with me at the craziness of some of the fish (ever seen Plaice?), but also suggested several ideas for recipes. We loaded up on large fillets of hake and the beginnings of a recipe. He suggested a fish chowder, with a dairy base, onions and potatoes, and the fish, of course. My mind was cranking, and we drove home, practically salivating at the delicious meal to come.

Fresh Irish Fish Chowder

all quantities approximate – use what you have on hand

fresh fish (we had 2 large filets of hake)
water (you could use wine)
mixed herbs
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
slice of sea-salt hand rubbed organic free range bacon

Glop some butter into the pan, and add the bacon, carrots, onion, and garlic. If you have celery, by all means, add it in (yum!). Stir that around until the veggies are soft. Add one small glass of water and the fish – the liquid should cover the fish. Add the herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes or so, and then add 2 small glasses of milk (I used the juice glasses at lovely Pier Cottage, which we rented), to make it creamy.

If it doesn’t thicken up enough for you, take a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid out and mix it with flour or cornstarch, and add that slurry back in. Simmer slowly over low heat (Knob 1 on this Irish stove) until you just can’t stand it anymore. Dish out huge bowls of soup, and serve with delicious Irish brown bread, slathered with butter.  Especially good on a rainy day.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have leftovers for lunch tomorrow. But I am guessing that your family might, just might, devour it all.

Pier Cottage, the rental home that Jessie and her family stayed in in Kenmare, Ireland.

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