Cooking up a Seafood Boil on Ballymoney beach
If you had the charcoal smoking in the barbecue long before the warm weather officially arrived, you might already be a bit tired of the usual flame-licked fair. But now the sun (and heat) is here and it seems a waste to spend any time indoors. Under these beautiful blue skies, we headed to the beach in Wexford for the ultimate beach feast that requires minimal prep, maximum seaside flavour and no table manners. Even if you’ve got fish-skeptic kids, they’re guaranteed to love smashing up this delicious seafood boil.
Most coastal-dwelling Americans will be familiar with a seafood boil but, especially considering the quality of fish in Ireland, we’re relatively unversed. More of a method than a recipe, the fun of a classic seafood boil is in the preparation and the group ritual of bashing and smashing the shellfish to get at all that pillowy interior. Get a gang together, enjoy a craft cider as it cooks, and then tuck in.
Ballymoney Beach Seafood Boil
FOR THE PEPPER DILLISK BUTTER
• 227g Irish butter
• 50g finely chopped fresh or dried pepper dillisk seaweed
FOR THE SEAFOOD BOIL
• 12 new potatoes • sea salt, to taste
• crab boil seasoning (Zatarain’s is best or you can make your own with a large muslin sachet filled with 1 tbsp each of mustard seed, coriander seed, black peppercorn, chopped bay leaf, dill seed and allspice)
• 4 live crabs
• 2 lobsters
• 12 fresh Dublin Bay prawns
• handful of fresh mussels and cockles (optional)
• 4 ears of fresh sweet corn, cut in half
• 1 Gubbeen chorizo sausage, left whole or sliced into 8cm pieces
• pepper dillisk butter, to serve
• handful clams, to serve
TO MAKE THE PEPPER DILLISK BUTTER
1 Place the butter and pepper dillisk in a large mixing bowl. 2 Blend to combine thoroughly. 3 Shape and refrigerate until serving.
TO MAKE THE SEAFOOD BOIL
1 Place the potatoes in an oversized cast iron pot, to cover the bottom. 2 Pour water over the potatoes to cover them by 5cm. 3 Add crab boil seasoning and a few generous pinches of sea salt. 4 Char or sear the chorizo sausage to seal in the flavour. 5 Place the shellfish, corn, and seared sausage in the pot and cover. Hang the pot over the fire (or place on the hob over a medium heat). Once the water comes up to a rolling boil, cook for another 12-18 minutes until the shellfish is cooked through. 6 Sliding the lid of the pot to the side a little, carefully strain off the water, keeping the food in the pot. 7 Spill out the contents of the pot onto a table covered with newspaper or brown butcher paper. 8 Melt the pepper dillisk butter in a small skillet pan and throw in a handful of clams (if you like). Once the clams have opened, place the pan within easy reach of your guests and get everyone to tuck in. Serve with plenty of chilled pinot blanc, rosé or Irish strawberry wine and have a generous bundle of paper towels at the ready, as it is a messy feast.