Smoked fish has always been an important part of Irish life, valued both for its flavour (very useful for making a simple diet more interesting) and its good keeping qualities. And it’s never been more popular than it is today, as discerning diners, chefs and home cooks all take pride in seeking out the very best smoked fish available.
A number of top quality artisan producers all around Ireland are making a wide range of excellent products, each with its own special signature – and foodies often have fun identifying each one specifically, judging by the size, texture, colour and flavour of the fish to see the man (or woman) behind the product on the plate, and the area it comes from.
One of the best fish smokers in the west of Ireland is Graham Roberts of Connemara Smokehouse, and visitors to Connemara are in for a treat when they see the smokehouse signed between Clifden and Ballyconneely – it’s well worth allowing time to call in and see the Roberts family’s business, and of course, buy one or two treats to take home.
They were the first winners of the BIM Product Innovation Award in 2003, and have won an impressive array of awards for their products both in Ireland and internationally, including the Great Taste Awards. And not only does Connemara Smokehouse smoked tuna feature in both editions of Rick Stein’s ‘Food Heroes’ books, but he also carries it on the menu at his famous Cornish restaurant, The Seafood Restaurant, in Padstow.
Salmon is the most popular fish and they produce a range of delicious products including Smoked Salmon, Gravadlax, Honey Roast Smoked Salmon and Hot Smoked Salmon (in Wild, Organic & farmed); other less well known but (at least) equally desirable regular products are Smoked Tuna, Honey Roast Smoked Tuna, Smoked Tuna Mousse, and Plain & Peppered Smoked Mackerel. They sometimes also make Kippers, Smoked Cod, Smoked Eels, Hot Smoked Trout, and Wild Smoked Trout.
It’s most fun to buy from the smokehouse at Bunowen Pier near Ballyconneely, but the more popular products are also easily available from normal retail outlets, including good supermarkets, and you can order from the full range online (www.smokehouse.ie).