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Thursday, 5 December 2013

'Celebrating Irish Salmon' by Máirín Uí Chomáin

Celebrating Irish Salmon is a new and very beautiful book from food writer Máirín Uí Chomáin. This Connemara native is a former chair of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, an active member of the Slow Food movement, and holds an honorary MA from NUI Galway in recognition of her commitment to home economics.

The salmon has been part of Ireland’s natural heritage for over 10,000 years. From time immemorial, the ‘prince of fish’ has been caught and eaten here, bartered and traded, celebrated in lore and legend, almost as much a symbol of Ireland as the harp or the shamrock. 'Celebrating Irish Salmon' presents over 100 recipes by acclaimed chef Máirín, with contributions from other cutting-edge chefs, smokehouses and fisheries and including all of Ireland’s Michelin-starred restaurants. Ken Whelan, our foremost fisheries scientist, provides contextual notes on the history of salmon in Ireland, and Walter Pfeiffer’s vibrant, contemporary photographs bring the dishes to life.

This book is the definitive book of salmon from lifecycle and history, covering cooking terms and equipment, starters and canapés, brunches and lunches with extensive beverage matching as a bonus. The thing that appeals about Máirín's food is its freshness and flavour, equal parts comfort food and lighter, more exotic tastes. 'Celebrating Irish Salmon' is Máirín’s fifth cookbook and is my favorite (so far) and one of the best books of the year. This is a book for everyone and more especially a taste of Connemara and the West of Ireland. She has penned a gem guaranteed to whet the appetite of seafood lovers. It seems there are as many ways to cook salmon as there are stars in the sky and here captured between the covers of this handsome tome are some of the very best. The book's second launch at Lough Inagh Lodge in Recess, Connemara, on Sunday, December 1st was attended by what must surley have been record numbers for an event of this kind. Testament to the high regard in which Máirín is held.

As I have been writing my little column for the Galway Advertiser for 2 years now and have met many people who work with food, from producers, farmers, chefs to writers and photographers. I am lucky now to count many of them as friends. But few people I have come across have made as much of an impression as Máirín. A unique woman and a beautiful soul with a large dollop of 'devilment' running through it all. She has the warmest of smiles and wears her heart on her sleeve. Her emotions are never far from the surface and is just as quick to be moved to tears as reduced to peels of laughter. When it comes to the list of 'who's who' and evaluating the very best of modern Irish cuisine, it will be impossible not to have some link to the pioneering spirit of this ghillie's daughter from Connemara, who I am proud to consider as a friend.
Máirín Uí Chomáin {pic by Mona Wise}

Celebrating Irish Salmon is published by Artisan House Editions in Letterfrack, Co Galway and is on sale in all good bookstores, priced at €20. It is also available at www.artisanhouse.ie with a special launch offer of two books for €30 plus p&p.

Published in The Galway Advertiser, 5/12/2013

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