I made a fish chowder (properly pronounced “chow-dah” here in New England), the other day. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. I had taken out a zip-lock bag of frozen fish from the freezer earlier and it hadn’t quite thawed out by mid-afternoon. When Paul catches fish in his lobster traps (they accidentally swim in there looking for food and get stuck) he brings the legal sized ones home and fillets them up and puts the fillets in a zip-lock bag. He doesn’t label them and there have been times when I’ve pulled out a bag thinking it was chicken only to find we were having fish for supper rather than chicken!
Anyway, the other day I had this frozen block of fish. It wasn’t thawing quickly enough so the thought occured to me to cut it up in chunks and make a stew, or chowdah, out of it. I have never made a fish chowdah, honest to gawd, in all my years on this planet.
I went online and read through some recipes for “easy fish chowder” and with a basic understanding of how things should go, I set about making up my own recipe. I hope I remember it, so here goes:
Bex’s Fish Chowder
– Fish cut into chunks (white fish, I used codfish)
– 4 cups diced peeled potatoes (you could leave the skins on but I like potatoes in chowder to be white)
– 1 cup chopped onion (2 small onions, don’t chop too small)
– 6-8 strips of bacon, diced
– 1/2 green pepper diced
– 1/2 red pepper diced
– 2 stalks celery, cut up
– 1 cup white wine (all I have is cooking wine here and it worked fine)
– 2 cups no- or low-sodium chicken broth
– 2 cups milk (I used 1% milk)
– Olive oil
– Fox Point Seasoning (1-2 tsp) (optional)
– Old Bay Seasoning (1-2 tsp) (optional)
(Note: My new favorite seasoning is Fox Point from Penzey’s Spices)
(Note: I used this pan below, it’s my braising pressure cooker but I used a plain glass cover instead of the pressure cooker lid so it’s the perfect size for this chowder)
In a pan or Dutch oven, cook up the diced bacon til the fat is rendered and the meat part is crispy. Add the onions to the pan and saute them until soft. Add about a cup of the chicken stock and the chunks of white fish. Let bubble gently for about 7-8 minutes until the fish is just barely cooked. With a slotted spoon, remove onions, fish and bacon to a dish for now.
Leave stock in the pan. Add the white wine now.
In the same pan, add a little olive oil, the rest of the chicken stock, the green and red peppers, the celery, the potatoes, and simmer covered for about 10 minutes til the potatoes are just tender.
Add back the fish, onions, and bacon. Bring up to a boil and then add the 2 cups of milk (you could use cream here but why? the 1% milk was just fine).
Add any seasonings you wish. I used Fox Point seasoning and a little Old Colony seasoning here.
Once the whole thing has been bubbling gently for a few minutes, it is ready to serve.
You can salt and pepper as you like but you don’t need much salt as the bacon is salty and your chicken stock might have some salt in it.
I made a pan of cornbread to go with this and one bowlful with the cornbread was more than enough for dinner, even for my hard-working lobsterman husband. It was the best fish chowder I think I’ve ever had, too. Amazing, on my first try at it!
You can use salt-pork, which most recipes call for, but I don’t have any of that on hand as a rule and Paul had a hard time finding it the last time I asked him to get me some, so the bacon did the same thing, it is pork and is salty! I think I liked it better, in fact.
Cheers for Chowdah,
“What we ardently love, we learn to imitate.”
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”
~ R. Waldo Emerson ~
“Every hour you spend fishing adds an hour to your life.”
from “Paradise” (Don Johnson)