Corned beef is nice and all, especially served steaming hot with slippery cabbage and soft potatoes and carrots, a smear of sharp Colman’s mustard to cut the fat. That said, Ireland’s patron saint deserves to be celebrated with something finer. St. Patrick drove out the snakes! He spoke Latin! His feast day is a holy day of obligation in the old country and a day of parades and pub crawls all over the western world.
So come March 17th a boil-up of corned beef seems kind of meager, bringing to mind a sad chapter in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes. We should do better. We can do better, such as this recipe for an elegant rolled Roasted Kerry Salmon with Prawns.
The rich wine and cream sauce flecked with spinach calls for a fine firm fish, hence the Kerry in the title. My great grandfather Andrew Sullivan hailed from Templenoe, a tiny hamlet outside of Kenmare on the south side of the Kerry Penninsula. Kerry is celebrated for its fine salmon and trout, although back in the 1800’s I doubt my ancestors were dining on all that much salmon, much less fancy sauces.
Before we return to happier thoughts of delicious dinners, let’s honor our ancestors with some ax-grinding remembrances. The inaction of the British Government when the potato crops failed in the 1840’s, leading to mass starvation and unthinkable sufferings, is well known.
Less known is Ireland produced lots of food during the famine years. The English landlords exported millions of bushes of corn, a “money crop” for the grand estates, not a “food crop,” yet certainly enough to keep the population alive. Not only that, millions of beasts raised for the table were sent overseas as well. Millions more sheep, pigs and oxen sailed out of Ireland during the famine years than the poor people lucky enough to make it out alive.
My father’s mother was a Lynch from Roscommon where our ancestral aunts had to take in sewing for the gentry land owners. Shivering winters were spent securing gold braided epaulets onto the uniforms of Her Majesty’s Army. If the work wasn’t completed by spring the women were fined or sent to debtor’s prison.
Thanks England! But really, you shouldn’t have. That Oliver Cromwell you sent over a while back was already more than enough.
Back to the business at hand — a spectacularly rich wild salmon roast with prawns and leeks and spinach and wine and cream and butter. While Irish cuisine traditionally tends toward the plain side, one thing’s for sure. We don’t skimp on the butter and cream.
A thick filet of salon is flayed open, spread with a thick paste of leeks and rolled and tied like a loin roast. The creamy sauce is streaked with emerald spinach bits and flecks of orange carrot. Prawns with their heads on swim up along side this happy scene.
Click here for the recipe for Roasted Kerry Salmon with Prawns