James St Recipes: Niall McKenna's simply delish shellfish dishes

Baby gem and crab salad
Baby gem and crab salad

AT THIS time of year, I am always yearning for a summer holiday, so this is a simple shellfish dish inspired by the many great restaurants I have visited across Europe.

Crab is a staple ingredient in all good restaurants in Ireland, as it can be served in so many ways. Our renowned crab and chilli linguini, which is on the menu at James St, is always a very popular choice.

This week’s recipe, baby gem and crab salad, using fresh seasonal ingredients, is easy to make and is perfect to enjoy in the summer months.

The second recipe is a squid salad. It is common to serve squid fried, but I’ve decided to make this recipe a bit healthier. I first tasted this dish on holiday many years ago and it has become one which I love coming back to again and again as it is refreshing and doesn’t take long to put together.

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(Serves 4)

3 baby gem lettuces, washed

1 shallot, thinly sliced

5g capers (in brine, not salt)

1 lemon juice & zest

1 chilli, chopped

50g mayonnaise

10g crème fraiche

100g white picked crab meat

10g chive, chopped

10g flat leaf parsley, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


To begin, thoroughly wash the baby gem lettuce, wrap it in a clean towel and place in the fridge.

It should be noted that when buying crab meat, try and get it as fresh as possible as this will make a great difference to the taste. Furthermore, when working with any shellfish, always try and have all ingredients pre-prepared and use utensils that are cold.

Place the crab in a bowl, adding mayonnaise, crème fraiche, chives, chilli, parsley and the juice and zest of a half lemon.

Mix thoroughly together and season. Because shellfish is naturally salty, it should not need much salt, but this depends on your palate. If you like a bit more spice and heat, you can also add more chilli.

To serve, make a dressing with the juice of the other half of the lemon, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix with a fork until combined and pour over the baby gem leaves, turning until the salad is well dressed.

Season again and place on a dish, sprinkling with shallots, capers and the crab mix.

Squid with rocket and watercress salad, and paprika mayonnaise
Squid with rocket and watercress salad, and paprika mayonnaise


For the salad:

2 tubes squid

1 small red pepper

Olive oil

50g rocket

50g watercress

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the paprika mayonnaise:

4 tbsp mayonnaise

2 pinch paprika

1 clove garlic


Wash the squid thoroughly with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Cut the squid into rings and toss in one tablespoon of olive oil and season.

Heat a griddle or frying pan until hot and add in the squid for 1-2 minutes on one side.

When turning over to other side, add in the peppers which should be diced and cooked in the pan for the remaining two minutes.

To serve, mix the salad leaves together and place the squid and peppers on top with the mayonnaise to the side.

For the mayonnaise:

Finely dice the garlic clove and mix it in with mayonnaise and paprika.

Place in a side dish as a dip.