Shells Café's Fish Tacos

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“When we decided to set up our own business, on the west coast of Ireland, we made a conscious decision to remain true to what makes us happy. It turned out to be the best decision we ever made,” says Jane and Myles Lamberth of Shells Café in Strandhill, Sligo.

Taking inspiration from their travels through the US, Nepal, South Africa and Europe, Jane and Myles decided to make this corner of Ireland home and established the café in 2006, combining their passion for good food with the outdoor surf lifestyle they always wanted.

 
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Since then, they’ve been quietly carving out a name for themselves in the surf community and beyond for their flavoursome bites and relaxed attitude, recently launching their second cookbook, Good Vibes Cookbook. Inspired by their surf adventures across the globe and the influence of their son Arlo, it focuses on healthy meals from locally produced ingredients. “Having Arlo has helped us become more aware of what we eat, and we’ve found ourselves journeying down a path of healthy recipes with an explosion of flavour. The new book encapsulates this new lifestyle we’re embracing,” says Jane.

After spending some time in southern California, Jane and Myles were inspired by the Mexican influence but also by the availability of fresh, organic ingredients, from farmer’s markets and supermarkets alike. Here, they give us a taste of one of their favourite dishes from their time there.

 Fish Tacos

 
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When it comes to tacos, most people think of the hard-shell, corn chip supermarket tacos. Although tasty, these are a more American version. The original tacos are in a soft, round flat bread made from masa. These are easy to make, but it’s difficult to source the ingredient.

Instead you can make them with a small, soft, wheat-flour tortilla, but keep an eye out for the real thing in speciality shops.

Affer the soft flour tortillas, there are six elements to this recipe; pickled red onion, hot mayonnaise, corn relish, fish, garnish and tortilla, and it should make around eight tacos.

PICKLED RED ONION

• 2 red onions
• 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
• 1 tbsp sugar
• 4 tbsp warm water
1 Slice the onions as thinly as possible. 2 Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to pickle (from 15 minutes to a whole day).

CORN RELISH

• 1 tin sweetcorn
• 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
• 3 tbsp coriander, chopped
• 1 tsp sunflower oil (to bind)
• Pinch salt
• Pinch ground cumin
1 Mix altogether and put to one side.

Or, if you fancy something a little bit different, try their green pepper salsa (pictured below). Green peppers are not always people's favourite vegetable, but this little mix elevates the humble green pepper to the next level. Great low fat side to pimp up your dish.

• 3 green peppers
• 2 tomatoes, deseeded
• 1 red onion, diced
• Handful of fresh coriander
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 green chillies, deseeded if you like
• Salt and black pepper
• 1 lime, juiced
• 4 tbsp of olive oil

1 Grab a pair of bbq tongs and burn your green peppers on the open gas hob flame or borrow your friends blow torch and go all Hollywood flame thrower style and burn the skin off the peppers. 2 Scrape away any of the remaining blackened skin to reveal a soft bright green flesh. 3 Finely chop the peppers, tomato, onion, coriander, garlic and chillies. 4 Add a pinch of salt, a squeeze of lime juice and a twist of black pepper. 5 Stir through the olive oil to bind everything together, taste and season accordingly.

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HOT MAYO

• 6 tbsp mayo
• 2 tbsp good hot sauce
• 1 tsp honey
1 In a bowl, stir all the ingredients together.

FISH

• 4 large white fish fillets, like hake, haddock or monkfish tails, sliced into bite-size pieces
• 2 tsp ground cumin
• 1 tsp smoked paprika
• 3 cloves garlic, grated
• 3 tbsp sunflower oil
• Salt & pepper
1 Place the fish in a bowl. 2 Toss with the spices, herbs and 1 tbsp of oil. 3 Drizzle the rest of the oil on a baking sheet. 4 Add the seasoned fish to the baking sheet and cook for around 15 minutes at 180C (375F).

TO SERVE

• 1/2 red cabbage, thinly sliced
• 3 limes
• Bunch of coriander
1 Warm the tortillas in a hot dry pan and place under a cloth to keep the heat in. 2 Have all the ingredients lined up and let’s build these tacos. 3 Start with the flatbread. 4 Sprinkle on the red cabbage. 5 Spoon on the fish. 6 Followed by corn relish. 7 And a squeeze of hot mayonnaise. 8 Finish with pickled onion, fresh coriander and a slice of lime.

Tuck in! These go down especially well at sunset with some chilled Mexican beers.


PHOTOGRAPHY MIKE SEARLE