Christmas Eve carp





‘In Poland and East Germany it is usual to have carp in grey sauce (szary sos) on Christmas Eve. The fish is cooked with it scales on and everyone treasures a scale or two in their purse to bring them good luck in the coming year. Sometimes the sauce is made with a mixture of beer and red wine or with red wine alone – carp in red wine is a New Year’s Eve dish in some parts of Germany’
Jane Grigson’s Fish Book

the fish out of water

I wasn’t expecting to sea bass
laid out on the pavement along the Belsize Road
at midnight
as if it was Saturday morning at St George’s Market
but there it was lying there
marooned, looking fresh

What can that mean?Surely it’s a sign..’

So  I pondered the sign on the way home and the only sign
I could come up with walking down the Moss Road
is that we’re both fish out of water here in Lambeg

a simple lunch

I think I might like herring more than mackerel (though mackerel is very good as well), just grill for a few minutes with a bit of salt and pepper, grab some salad leaves from the window box and a add a bit of beetroot ‘jam’ that you mistook for pickled beetroot in the Polish shop. Add a lemon for colour (well, no need to add a whole lemon or even half a lemon as above) eat and enjoy.
Onion skirlie would have been perfect as well if you had remembered to make it.

langoustine/ Dublin Bay Prawns


They’re really nice but

a) too expensive for what you get
b) shelling them is annoying. I was grumpy afterwards.

Plus they’re creepy to look at, though also beautiful

I just cooked them in salted water and dipped them in mayonnaise, but the big bag of farmed mussels you could pick up for the same price is better value.

So no more Dublin Bay prawns for me thank you very much. Unless of course you’ve shelled them and are paying for them in which case, yes please!


This Christmas due to Mrs Canal Ways being sick with tinsil-itus we had a different sort of Christmas than normal. No sitting with family relations getting abuse about hair length, lack of job, lack of driving skill, about putting on weight, not doing a bakery course, not having new clothes etc, (well not at least until Boxing Day). No instead it was a quiet Christmas when I read a biography about cod.

There is something about the sea and trawlers that connects with me so I enjoyed the book. It was also sad at the way we have plundered a seemingly boundless ‘resource’  in the belief that nature is boundless and will always give and the way we humans don’t seem to learn our lessons that although the earth is big and has some wiggle room it is limited as well. Those who deny that the earth’s atmosphere will fix itself no matter how much we pollute the atmosphere are of a similar bent.

dover sole

This post will be the thoughts of a man who is clearly heading toward the middle age foot hills on this his 33 birthday. Yes, deprived of Facebook where people who I don’t really know that well might well be saying things like ‘Happy Birthday Dave!’ or even ‘Happy Birthday Dave I have resorted to telling the passing internet traffic on the wilderness of this blog post hoping to get some birthday love here. And to celebrate I am now going to blog about the merits of the Dover sole.

Dover sole is usually quite pricey at the market but today it seemed to be plentiful and good value (4 for £10) so I bought a couple home with me for the first time. It’s quite an unusual sort of fish because it’s flavour gets a lot better a few days after it has been caught unlike other fish.

You can also peel the thick skin off in one go  (like taking off a sock.)

This is the recipe I used.Just fried for 4 minutes on each side, then had it with a lemony butter  sauce. And tasty it was as well.

It’s probably not the type of fish to be eating every week (expensive) but its tasty.

Middle age foothills here I come.


Today at St. George’s Market I bought some scad from a reasonably grumpy fishmonger. Perhaps it was because he was doing a half price fish sale that he thought it gave him the licence as well to be grumpy, but it has put me off buying from him again. There is no point doing a promotion if you’re going to ruin it with grumpy service.

But back to the scad.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher make mention of it in the River Cottage Fish book as a fish that we should eat more off. They write:-

‘the Japanese, who know a thing or two about fish, adore scad. It is one of the most popular species in Japan, and is used in all manner of traditional dishes, including sushi and sashimi…..Boxes of just-landed scad are electronically tagged with barcodes containing full details of when, where and how the fish was caught and landed.  When these fish are cooked in a restaurant, the barcode is presented to diners so that they can scan it into a camera phone and read the profile of its source and capture’

Also The Islandman Tomás Ó Criomhthain mentions it a few times in his book as a fish they ate on Great Blasket Island. But I had never bought it before until today. Anyway, after some gutting the fish is ready to go baked with some cider and apple for tomorrows dinners. I’ll let you know how I got on with it..