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Book review: Fresh From The Sea by Clodagh Mckenna

Book review: Fresh From The Sea by Clodagh Mckenna
Salty tales from Clodagh's new book, Fresh From The Sea
Fresh From The Sea
by Clodagh McKenna
RRP £16.99
published by Gill & Macmillan Ltd
This recipe-rich tome accompanies the third series of its author Clodagh McKenna's television series, 'Fresh From The Sea'. As the series airs in Ireland, there's a definite bias- Clodagh often emphasises the use of both Irish fish and its supporting ingredients, like butter. There's a gazetteer of producers and stockists, and features on Irish food events- but that's not to say that there's no external influence. Indeed, the recipe origins are as diverse as India, Morocco and China, as well as being heavily informed by the cuisine of Italy, where Clodagh's currently living.

The book focuses heavily on fish as the perfect healthy, convenient meal solution. Clodagh's recipes are fast and simple- and there's a nice balance between family favourites like a fast Fish pie, retro classics like Lobster Newberg, and more impressive entertaining dishes. Chapters are divided by fish type- Shell, Flat, Round and Oily, as well as cooking al fresco, side dishes and puds. 'Fresh From The Sea' opens with the basics- store-cupboard lists, conversion charts and seasonality charts- although personally I'd like to see more technical information on preparing each types of fish- and a glossary wouldn't go amiss.

Clodagh is obviously passionately community-minded and her book is littered with references to her favourite foodie haunts and producer profiles. She's a practical cook, often offering several variations on each recipe. I found the 'Flat fish' section the most inspiring- I'm keen to get in the kitchen and try out an unusual Thai fish curry and Cacciucco soup from Livorno. And I'm pretty sure I'll be rolling out Grilled salmon with yogurt, lime and honey sauce (from the 'Oily fish' chapter) at more than one barbecue this summer. If you're dithering over what to drink, Clodagh's 'Tips for a tipple' are a nice touch.

Very much in the same vein as Rick Stein's books, 'Fresh From The Sea' is a colourful journey around the bounteous Irish coast, brought to life by Alberto Peroli's bright images. If you're a stickler for detail with an appetite for more 'hardcore' information, you're probably going to be better off with a more technical manual. On the other hand, if you're simply keen on all things marine, and looking for some tasty ideas to broaden your repertoire, 'Fresh from The Sea' is a sure buy- and perfect for relaxed summer eating.
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5 June 2009
By: Zoe Perrett
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