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Fishy, Fishy Restaurant in Kinsale,is well known throughout Ireland, even to people who have never actually been there because Martin Shanahan, who owns and runs it, is ‘mad about fish’, which is also the title of his popular TV program and catchy tune. Despite being an island nation and possibly because of it, up to a few years ago Irish people had no ‘meas’ (appreciation/interest) in fish. Many, like me were reared on it so if we never saw another cod/plaice or mackerel ever again it would be a day too soon. Beef or salmon were the staples, not just at weddings, but we never saw salmon as children being reared on the East coast. Real salmon were wild and caught in rivers in the West of Ireland on their way back from the sea. Cheap, bland, flavourless imported farmed salmon fillets did nothing to spawn our appetite born of our renewed interest in a healthier lifestyle. Funny isn’t it that we, the Irish only became interested in fish again when it became scarce and expensive !
But Martin is leading the way back and you would want to be living at the bottom of the ocean not to have heard of him. His no nonsense approach to cooking fish ‘you need a pan heavy enough to knock a fella out’ and those dreaded bones that could put you off fish for life? get your fishmonger to fillet them out for you. With the result that ‘red’ meat consumption has gone way down in Ireland with fresh fish been eaten 3 or 4 nights a week in most homes, that can afford it at least. The fish monger is our new best friend and festivals such as the All Ireland Chowder Cook Off in Kinsale and the Howth Prawn Festival are gathering serious momentum, promoting awareness and availability of fresh fish. But if like me you are a relative newbie when it comes to cooking it or downright lazy you can always go along to Martin’s Fishy Fishy Restaurant for your dinner and have him cook it for you...
Regulars on the menu include his signature fish pie, we have all tried to replicate, the ubiquitous fish and chips and various fresh fish including seared yellow finn tuna, scallops, hake and cod with interesting creamed beetroot sides, tempura courgettes and parsnip mash. Fishy, fishy is always busy so book early as they say to avoid disappointment. You cant miss Martin himself if he’s about, he will be the lad in the middle of the crowd, talking for Ireland and keeping them spellbound. Martin is mad about fish and we are all mad about Martin.