I told you recently that the last thing the world needs is yet another risotto recipe. I lied. That was before eldest daughter returned, from a break on our wild Atlantic shore, bearing gifts. Gifts of Sea Spice! That and the Kerry crab catapults this otherwise ordinary dish into the extraordinary and onto my Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients list. “Sea Spice?” I can hear your busy little mind at work “What is Sea Spice?” I hear you ruminate.
We Irish are all small little people. We wear greasy flat caps and are inclined to doff our forelocks to our betters. We are introverted and talk in such a thick accent that no civilised person can understand what we are saying. This leads to further introversion, perpetuating our inward looking approach to life.
The Texans, on the other hand, are all big people. They add to their grand stature by wearing snake-skin boots with Cuban heels and top off their suntanned heads with large multi-gallon hats. They speak in loud, booming voices and stride about in a powerful, overbearing fashion. We could not be any more different to each other.
Warning to the weak of stomach: This post contains some pretty gory bits. Read on at your own risk.
Somewhere around 25 years ago, I was out having a few pints with “the lads”. We were socialising in Goggins of Monkstown, our then favoured haunt. The conversation was wide-ranging and often great ideas would be tabled for decision or debate. One such notion was to hire a boat from Bulloch Harbour so we could catch a few mackerel. Everybody agreed that this was a worthy venture and a couple of nights later, three of us took the trip to Dalkey, negotiated with Joe and took out a small open boat, complete with Seagull motor and hand lines.
In a café beside our office in Sandyford, they serve the scones on little wooden boards. I think they are called shingles in the building trade. Weatherproof, very trendy and they only need a wipe with a cloth between servings. When we have our coffee there, we have fun watching patrons scrabbling around on the floor to retrieve the mini jam jars that slide off the shingles like rain off a roof. The madness of using building materials in food presentation doesn’t stop there. No, we have grown used to the ‘trend’ for serving chips in buckets. With every shovel of the cement of fashion into the mixer of dining, we seem to move further and further into the building site.
You know the feeling. The moment after you tell your better half that yes, her bum does look big in that. There are times where you really wish that you could rewind the clock a little bit. Reversing the car into that ‘hidden’ pole. Standing up in the kitchen and catching the corner of your head on the corner of a cupboard door. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a 30 second rewind.
The ‘what will he cook this weekend’ debate started out innocuously enough with: “What makes for a ‘real pork pie?”. “It needs to be a hot water crust.” was my contribution. Friend A suggested “If there isn’t a boiled egg, it isn’t a real pork pie.” Friend B recoiled in horror at the suggestion. For my own part, memories of my Mum making individual pork pies (with an egg) for my Dad’s fishing forays into the western half of the country pretty well decided the issue. I found myself committed to cooking a pork pie.
One of the time-of-times in a sad superstitious old man’s life is approaching. My youngest is preparing to emigrate. She has finished the formal part of her education and wants to spread her wings. This is not a lucky time for me. So I suspect that it’s appropriate that number thirteen in this series is a meal that she has begged me to cook as one of her departure treats. It’s my take on seafood-free Pad Thai or ‘Dad Thai’ to take it for my own. The ingredients are all in the photo above. For superstition’s sake, there are fourteen.
Just what the world doesn’t need, another risotto recipe. Could I suggest that if you want a simple prawn risotto recipe, go back and search again. This one is not simple and needs lots of work. This extreme recipe produces an extreme result. It is worth the trouble. But, it is trouble. So if you want something nice and simple, it’s been nice knowing you. If you want something really, really delicious, get your sleeves rolled up.