Monday, May 16, 2011

Fish Chowdah (Chowder)!

So having sorted out a delicious fish stock, I wanted to figure out a yummy way to eat it.  Plain broth is great but I get hungry again quickly and this stock was screaming for additions.  Like many of my recipes there are no hard fast rules to this, just suggestions that I think will result in a yummy dish.

Stuff you'll need;

I've made this chowder twice - once with stuff I had lying around, the second time I went to the market and made conscious decisions about what I wanted to include.  The photos you see here are from the second batch - the first one just looked boring...

  • Red potatoes (I choose red for the color, any kind of potato will do - maybe purple if you have any lying around?)
  • Peas (mine were frozen)
  • Corn (also frozen)
  • White Beans (canned - any kind of beans will do, I was considering butter beans first)
  • Splash (about 4 tablespoons more or less to taste) of heavy cream
  • Bacon -diced and lightly browned (this is to keep the color from going grey and unappetizing...)
  • Several large shrimp per serving (thawed if using frozen)
  • Additionally, this chowder would be delicious with some chunks of fish (monkfish, seabass, salmon etc.) or shell fish like clams!
  • Fish stock  (click here for the recipe)

This part is so easy it's nearly criminal. Dice up the bacon and give it a good toss up in a pan - you want a light browning. Set it aside and prep your veggies - you want fairly uniform chunks of vegetables based on their density - that is to say carrots and potatoes should be cut to about the same size.  This helps you with the cooking time to ensure everything is cooked through equally.  

Thaw the fish stock in a heavy bottom pot, I usually make a vat of it at a time, and freeze it in single serving containers - I thawed 2 for this batch (resulting in about 5 cups).

Add the denser veggies first - in this case it was the potatoes, and let them cook through.  Once the potatoes soften (soften not dissolve) add everything else - bacon, cream, beans, other veggies - except the shrimp.  This is a good time to skim some of the fat off the surface of the soup if you like - unless you added a ton of butter it's primarily good oil - fish and olive from the soup base - so there's really no need to do it, but sometimes for aesthetic reasons I'll skim it off with a large shallow spoon.

Bring it back up to a light boil, turn off the heat and drop the shrimp into the soup - shrimp cooks really quickly and overcooked shrimp tends to get rubbery if added too soon, and even large shrimp don't really take much effort to cook. The shrimp will cook through in about 4 minutes without additional heat.  If for some reason it doesn't, turn up the heat for just a moment until the shrimp are opaque and pink.

That's it - just serve it up and chow(der) down!


Just for reference, this is what the first batch looked like - really tasty but not so visually appealing really...I used a peeled and sliced russet potato and didn't bother to skim the oil.  The result was a rich broth with a nice seafood flavor and dense potato slices but not much variation in color and texture. I kept thinking it needed something green.


  1. Thanks for Sharing Chi! This is really making my mouth water and stomach grumble.. I need to try making this the next time I'm off work!

  2. This is the first fish chowder I can see myself making. You rock! Thanks so much!