Dublin Bay Prawns with Lemon, Garlic and Chilli

by Kristin on August 4, 2011

After living in Ireland for over a decade, I shop more like a European than an American when it comes to food. There are plenty of big supermarkets here, including a nice one in my town and a big Tesco Extra nearby that’s open 24/7 (which is rare in Ireland), and even though I do one big weekly shop, I find myself out shopping for food every other day or so. I buy all my meat at a butcher shop where I know his name and our kids go to the same creche. On a Saturday morning, we go to the bakery to buy scones and brown bread. And if I want to buy fish, I drive over to the Irish Sea to a little shop on the pier, where they get the fish straight off their own boat.

Fisherman’s Catch in Clogherhead is owned by John Kirwan Jr., who has a 160-year history of fishing in his family. He fished with his father, John Kirwan Sr., who fished with his father before him. These days John Jr. runs the shop with his wife while his own son, the youngest seine net skipper in Ireland, supplies them with fish from his boat. They don’t have as much of a selection as you might find in the town-based fishmongers, but it’s all spanking fresh. “These are fresh off the boat this morning,” I was told when I asked for some Dublin Bay prawns, “caught 10 miles east of here. You don’t get fresher or more local than that.“

When I asked what was the best way to peel the prawns, confessing that I always make a hash of it, he said, “Give me two minutes and I’ll do it for you.” As I waited, I wound up swapping oyster recipes with the other customer in the shop, a mega-buff body builder who was practically bursting out of his T-shirt (“try oysters Kilpatrick” was his tip). Walking back to my car, with the Cooley and Mourne Mountains visible across the bay, I passed the boats tied up at the pier, small groups of fishermen enjoying the sunny day and a seal bobbing in the water, hoping for scraps. With a view like that and a bag full of world-class prawns — already shelled! — that would take only 5 minutes to cook for dinner, why would you go to the supermarket for frozen imported fish?

Dublin Bay Prawns with Lemon, Garlic and Chilli

Serves 4 as a starter

This is the kind of recipe where you need to have everything prepped and ready to go as soon as you start cooking, since it cooks so quickly. If you can’t get Dublin Bay prawns (which are also known as langoustines), use tiger prawns instead. On a warm day when you don’t want too much to eat, this would make a gorgeous dinner for two people with some crusty bread, salad and a glass of chilled white wine.

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Dublin Bay prawns (tails only)
50 g (4 tablespoons) butter
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely minced
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
crusty bread, to serve

First, peel the prawns (or better yet, get your friendly fishmonger to do this for you) and set aside.

Melt the butter over a medium-low heat in a large frying pan — you don’t want the heat too high or the chilli and garlic will burn. Add in the minced chilli and cook for 1 minute. Using a Microplane grater, grate the garlic clove into the butter and cook for 30 seconds (if you don’t have a Microplane, use a garlic press or just mince the garlic as finely as you can). Add in the lemon juice and stir to mix it with the butter. Raise the heat to medium-high, tip in the shelled prawns and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until they’ve turned pink and have plumped up and are cooked through. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the fresh chopped parsley. Serve with some crusty bread to soak up every last drop of the sauce.

Fisherman’s Catch
Unit 4
Port Oriel
The Harbour
County Louth
+353 (0)41 988 9706

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Móna Wise August 4, 2011 at 9:08 am

You are right, of course. Why people buy frozen prawns or any frozen fish (Donegal Catch!) is beyond me when these beauties are right on your doorstep. Lovely recipe and very pretty ‘white’ photo.


Orla August 4, 2011 at 9:31 am

As children we always accompanied mum into the fish shop once a week to get some fresh fish (there used to be a cart on west street just outside Dunnes actually) so it was always in my mind to buy fresh from the fish monger. I visit The Fishermans Catch at least once per week as I live in Clogherhead and John and Michelle are the friendliest people you could meet, as are Karen and Gerard who also work there. They even know my dogs who I run over the head with to collect dinner, and then run home. I would urge everyone who is near to visit this shop. You will never buy pre packed fish again! That recipe has me drooling over my computer already! Defo on the list for the weekend!


Karen O'Connell August 4, 2011 at 9:50 am

Fabulous and when fish is that fresh it really needs only the lightest touch to bring out the gorgeous flavours. I have a weakness for these prawns anyway and always order if they are on a menu as I always muck up the shelling too!


Catherine August 4, 2011 at 9:53 am

Oh, my mouth is watering here. The Kirwans are fishy heroes, for sure – I love that they had a “Martin’s Mad About Fish” special on every week in the Drogheda shop while the show was on air!


Clare - An American in Ireland August 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

I love that shop in Clogherhead – such a gem! And what views, right? :) The prawns look “lovely” – hee hee, will have to try ‘em!


Liana August 4, 2011 at 12:46 pm

I am very sorry now that I don’t live near the beach… :(
I’ll definitely try this some day, though I doubt it will be a warm day when I don’t want too much to eat :)
Simple cooking + good ingredients = enjoyment


Tina@flourtrader August 4, 2011 at 3:29 pm

The idea of going to specialty shops instead of a mega market sounds like so much fun. You are lucky that you are able to do that, I does insure that you are getting the freshest ingredients. This prawn dish looks fantastic. I enjoy dishes like this that are lightly seasoned which allows for more flavor to come through of the seafood. Thanks for sharing.


Paula Ryan August 4, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Am going to start cooking more fish, this looks heavenly!!! My sis has a fish shop in Wexford just wish it was nearer to me! :-)


Colette August 4, 2011 at 10:03 pm

I love this shop. Lovely people, & knowledgable too. Love the idea of them doing the peeling. Always make a bit of a mess when I try to do it. Will definitely try your recipe.


Alan Bourke August 4, 2011 at 10:15 pm


Next time you’re down this way you should check out the fish shop on the Coal Pier in Dun Laoghaire harbour (it’s the grey blockhouse building in the picture in the link below). Straight off the boats, onto the ice. They even have their own grey seal who floats off the back of the pier on the scrounge.



nessa robins August 4, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Lovely post Kristin. That dish looks so delicious I’m definitely going to give it a go.


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