Driving to Galley Head Lighthouse is a bit like a magical mystery tour. Although easy to see from a variety of locations along the West Cork coast, the lighthouse – like an ever-receeding mirage – seems to disappear from sight the closer you get. Eventually, however, after driving constantly south of Clonakilty, past numerous private property signs and along a low-lying road, protected on either side by stone walls, you get to where you can drive no further. The lighthouse stands at the tip of a peninsula, surrounded by the sea, and the lighthouse keeper’s house that we were staying in is part of a two-sided structure that shelters the parking area at the front from the northern and western winds.
We got the perfect weather, opening the window shutters – no curtains could blot out the lighthouse beams – to sunshine every day. Hours were spent lying on the near-deserted beaches nearby but we got just enough of a sea mist in the evenings to justify lighting the sitting room fire. With such a fabulous place to stay, there was no point in going out for dinner so we shopped in Clonakilty, especially in the well-stocked Scally’s SuperValu, and cooked in every night.
The Husband came up with this Lighthouse Ling, which was so good that it made an appearance two nights during our stay. You can also try using any other firm white fish but ling, which I like for its good flavour, was also the cheapest on offer on Scally’s well-stocked fish counter. They also had Spanish asparagus so we tucked the spears into the cooking dish alongside the fish to roast at the same time, serving it with a chunky vegetable stew (thanks to my Kildorrery Aunt who gave us a box of veg left over from a post-wedding barbeque!) and some crusty bread for mopping. This is also good with some chopped chorizo scattered on the base of the dish along with the garlic.
Ling fillets – 1kg, cut into eight pieces
Garlic – 2 cloves, sliced
Streaky bacon rashers or slices of pancetta – 8
Olive oil – 4 tablespoons
Juice of 1 lemon
Flaked almonds – 50g
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Preheat your oven to 200°C (190°C for a fan oven). Season the ling with salt and pepper and sprinkle the sliced garlic on the base of an ovenproof cooking dish.
Stretch the streaky bacon rashers using the flat back of a knife. Wrap a rasher around each piece and place on top of the garlic in the cooking dish. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice and scatter the flaked almonds on top.
Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and the bacon is crispy.
Serve with roast asparagus, a chunky tomato-based vegetable stew and some crusty bread.