How to Make Fish Sticks and California Fish Tacos


World Oceans Day is Wednesday, June 8. I’m not sure if this is a celebration or a day of reflection to remind us of the chronic mess we humans have gotten ourselves into.

In our busy lives, most of us have taken the oceans for granted. We have somehow failed to realize that humanity depends on the health of the oceans for our very existence.

The oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface, provide 97% of the planet’s water supply as well as 80% of the planet’s biodiversity.

94% of living species on earth exist in the oceans and apparently a lot remains to be discovered.

70-80% of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants and the oceans feed and support billions of people.

The ocean plays an essential role in our climate. For decades, scientists and marine biologists have pointed out that rapidly rising ocean temperatures are melting ice, altering coral reefs and coastal ecosystems, causing cold-water habitats to shrink, resulting in less plankton available for sea ​​life.

Rising temperatures put low-lying nations like the Maldives in the Indian Ocean at immediate risk of disaster. For centuries, the oceans have been used as a dumping ground for all kinds of trash, sewage, plastic in its many forms, six-pack rings, fishing nets and polystyrene. It harms marine mammals, fish, and seabirds who get entangled in it or feed it to their young mistaking it for food.

Although the ocean is vast, it turns out that it is more easily polluted and acidified than originally thought.

Many of you have heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vast floating dump, 15 times the size of Ireland in the Pacific Ocean. It contains more than 100 million tons of plastic waste.

We have reached a tipping point.

Finally, scientists and governments in many countries are cooperating to limit overfishing and control pollution in a frantic effort to slow global warming – let’s hope it’s not too late.

Here in Ireland, some progress has been made but there is still a long way to go. Year-round swimmers have given a boost to the Clean Beach campaign and blue flags are highly coveted.

So after all that, let’s go back to the kitchen to cook some delicious fish.

It can be difficult to know where to find information on sustainable fish, it is much easier to get information on health benefits.

There are few things more delicious than a simply cooked piece of fresh fish. Freshness is everything. Remember that fresh fish looks bright and crisp and does NOT smell like fish. Be careful when shopping: when the fish says “freshly landed”, it may be five days old. It means something very different from “freshly caught”.

Fish has always been referred to as “brain food” and numerous studies confirm the health benefits of eating fresh fish at least once a week.

It is now scientifically proven that omega-3 fatty acids found in fish are helpful in treating many health conditions.

From the cook’s point of view, it’s the epitome of fast food. I’m a big fan of “crudo” or thinly sliced ​​raw fish, but it absolutely has to be fresh. If that idea doesn’t “float your boat,” there are a million other super-quick recipes to enjoy with family and friends.

It is very easy to overcook fish, remember that the flesh just needs to go from translucent to opaque, a matter of two to three minutes if the fillet is thin like plaice, lemon sole or megrim. A bit longer for a piece of hake or haddock.

You should also know that sea vegetables are 10 to 20 times more nutritious than anything that grows on land.

How do we know which fish are sustainable in Irish waters? Simple and consistent information about what to buy is incredibly difficult for the relevant audience to get and believe me, I tried! My favorite option is day boat fishing, but there are still few day boats still fishing around our shores for various reasons.

Bigger boats can go further and stay longer at sea. They target schools of fish with sophisticated technology. The “unintended” consequences often result in large amounts of bycatch and the decimation of the ocean floor and breeding grounds. Many species have been overexploited almost to the point of extinction, impacting many other species and habitats in the complex web. So, let’s do our best to look for non-threatened species and strive to support our local fishing communities. Be prepared to pay more for fish from a day boat if you are lucky enough to get hold of it.

At least try to make sure the fish you buy is caught in Irish waters. We therefore support the Irish fishing community which is facing unprecedented challenges.

See and for more information.

Baja Fish Tacos

These Baja-style fish tacos are an easy way to impress at a summer BBQ

Preparation time

10 minutes


  • 10 servings of fresh fish – haddock, monkfish, brill, plaice, lemon sole, weighing about 125 g (4 1/2 oz) each
  • olive oil, for frying

  • For the chilli beer paste:

  • 225 g (8 oz) plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder

  • 2 teaspoons mild or hot pepper powder

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 3 organic free-range eggs

  • 225 ml (8 fl oz) light beer or a mixture of beer and water

  • For the chipotle mayonnaise

  • 225 ml (8 oz) homemade mayonnaise

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mashed chipotle adobo peppers

  • juice of 1 lime

  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

  • a pinch of salt

  • To serve:

  • 10 corn tortillas

  • 20 lettuce leaves

  • Slices of guacamole or avocado

  • Tomato sauce

  • coleslaw

  • a few sprigs of cilantro


  1. First prepare the chilli beer paste. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the mustard and chilli powder, salt and sugar. Make a well in the center, break the eggs into it, then gradually add the beer, whisking all the time from the center outwards of the bowl in more and more concentric circles until all the flour is incorporated. Cover and let stand while you prepare the mayonnaise.

  2. Mix the chilli in the adobe, lime juice and cilantro with the mayonnaise and season to taste.

  3. Warm the corn tortillas individually in a skillet or even better, wrap them in a packet and heat at 180°C/350°F/Mark 4 for 5-10 minutes.

  4. Heat the oil in a fryer to 190°C (375°F). Dip each fish fillet in the batter, then cook for 4-7 minutes until crispy and drain on paper towels. It will depend on the thickness of the fish. Alternatively, fry them in a deep pan with 5 to 7.5 cm (2 to 3 inches) of olive oil.

  5. Put some lettuce on half of a warm tortilla, top with a piece of crispy fish, chipotle mayonnaise, guacamole, tomato salsa and a sprig of cilantro, fold over and enjoy!

Fish fingers with garlic mayonnaise

A perfect after school dinner

Fish fingers with garlic mayonnaise

Preparation time

5 minutes


  • 8 pieces of fresh haddock, hake or pollock cut into fingers 11.5 x 3 cm (4 1/2 x 1 1/4 inches) approximately

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • white flour, well seasoned with salt, freshly ground pepper and a little cayenne pepper or smoked paprika (optional)

  • For the egg wash:

  • 2-3 beaten organic free-range eggs and a little milk

  • panko or dried white breadcrumbs

  • To serve:

  • crisp lettuce leaves

  • For the garlic mayonnaise:

  • 225 g (8 oz) homemade mayonnaise

  • 1 to 4 crushed garlic cloves (depending on size)


  1. Add the garlic to the mayonnaise and season to taste.

  2. Heat the oil in a fryer to 180˚C/350°F.

  3. Season the fish sticks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Next, dip the fish, first in the well seasoned flour, then in the beaten egg and finally coat it evenly with the breadcrumbs of your choice. Gently tap to firm…!

  4. Heat a little olive oil or clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

  5. Bake the fish sticks until golden and crispy on the outside and cooked through in the center. Drain on paper towels.

  6. I love wrapping them in crispy little lettuce leaves, adding a dollop of garlic mayonnaise (aioli) or any mayonnaise of your choice and enjoying.


Midleton Farmers Market

Head to the Midleton Farmers Market this morning as we celebrate 22 years of the Farmers Market (9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). There will be a festive table with many free tastes of delicious fresh produce and artisan foods from the traders. And bring the kids – we’ll have balloon artists and children’s storytellers. Plus, the incredible Cork Light Orchestra – a 30-piece pop orchestra led by renowned bandleader and musician Ilse de Ziah comes to Midleton to delight us all.

For more information, see Midleton Farmers Market on Facebook.

Summer Day Salads at Ballymaloe Cooking School on Monday 22nd August.

We have incredibly productive greenhouses here at the cooking school. In the summer they are packed with produce – heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, radishes, eggplant, zucchini, skinny green beans, fresh herbs… So let’s get creative. We’ll be making 10 irresistible salads, so invite a few friends over for a late lunch or early dinner, open a bottle of sparkling rosé. Enjoy the summer sun and share new flavors. Easy to prepare and super delicious.

For more information see

Groundswell Regenerative Agriculture Show & Conference

Progressive young farmers and growers are taking notice. The Groundswell Regenerative Agriculture Show and Conference (June 22-23) takes place at Lannock Manor Farm, Hertfordshire, UK, spotlighting regenerative agriculture pioneers from the UK and around the world . The event provides a forum for farmers and anyone interested in food production or the environment to learn about the theory and practical applications of conservation agriculture or regenerative systems, including no-till, cover crops and the reintroduction of livestock into the arable rotation to improve soil health.

For more information, visit

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