I admit, since I last wrote, life has been busy and my progress on the Duck Challenge has slowed. But I assure you that my time has been put to good use… mainly, in the kitchen.
If you’re vegan or a real vegetarian (meaning, you don’t eat critters from the sea), you can stop reading now because I’m going to relay what I think is a worthwhile recipe for Seafood Chowder. For meat-eaters and terrible vegetarians (like myself), this is a must-try!
(Image from tasteofhome.com)
This all began Friday, when I got it in my head that I needed to make seafood chowder. For those who don’t know me very well, I’m a picky eater whose diet is, for the most part, dictated by cravings—savory, salty, sweet, creamy… the list goes on. Unfortunately, this isn’t helped by the fact that I work down the street from a Whole Foods, which I pass everyday to and from my office. So it was painfully easy for me to make a grossly expensive pit stop on the way home from work to pick up an array of overpriced seafood, as recommended by the highly-rated recipe I found on AllRecipes.com. While shopping, I made my own tweaks to the ingredient list based on user reviews and my own taste, and ended up with this:
(By the way, these ingredients were enough to feed 4-6 as a 1-course meal)
- ½ lb. Cod (skin removed and cut in 1” chunks or strips)
- ½ lb. Haddock (skin removed and cut in 1” chunks or strips)
- 1 lb. uncooked, shelled shrimp (peeled and cleaned)
- 1 can smoked oysters and/or
- 1 can smoked mussels
- Imitation Crab Meat (chunks, not sticks)
- 1 can corn (16 oz)
- 5 cups potatoes, diced
- 1 med or large onion, chopped
- ¼-1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 4 cups water
- 4 cups whole milk
- ½ can of evaporated milk
- 2 tbsp. flour
- 4 tbsp. butter
- Sea Salt, to taste
- Fresh black pepper, to taste
- ½ tbsp. onion powder
- ½ tbsp. garlic powder
- ½ tbsp. curry powder
- Olive oil
You’ll need a large pot or a Dutch oven, which is what I used. Just to make life easier, I recommend prepping the onion, potatoes, shrimp, and parsley ahead of time—peeling and cleaning shelled shrimp can take fooooorever.
Smoked oysters and mussels were ingredients I added based on user reviews—the original recipe called for bacon. Being a vegetarian, I couldn’t use bacon, but found that the smoked flavor of the oysters and mussels gave the chowder a nice flavor that resembled a smoked bacon. So, if you like smoked foods, this is a great replacement.
1. Coat the bottom of the pot or Dutch oven with olive oil and heat on a lower setting. Once heated, sauté the onions until they are tender. Next, add the potatoes and sauté a couple minutes before adding 2 cups of water. Raise heat, and let water boil gently until potatoes begin to soften (10+ minutes), stirring occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, prepare your fish—peel off skin and cut into 1” chunks or strips.
While cutting your fish, keep your pieces thin. The pieces will flake and break apart in your chowder, which will give the ‘broth’ a good texture. My reason for recommending this over using thicker chunks that won’t break apart is as follows: there are certain worms found specifically in Cod and Haddock—the most common ones are called Cod Worms. They are small and a white or pinkish color, very similar to the color of the fish. Even when you buy at the “top-notch” markets, like Whole Foods, there is still a considerable chance that your fillet will contain worms. I recommend cutting the fish in thinner chunks, or strips, so that you have a higher chance of spotting worms. It is true that if worms go overlooked and end up in your soup, the heat will kill them and most times they will be completely harmless. However, there is a small chance that eggs may latch onto your intestinal lining as the foods passes through… in which case, you will have problems.
I bought my Cod at Whole Foods and spent about $8 on ½ a pound. After finding a live Cod worm in one chunk and a dead one in another, my $8 went into a heavy-duty Ziplock bag and right into the trash. I proceeded to have a panic attack, and almost destroyed my chunks of Haddock as I searched for other worms. Conveniently, I live with a photographer who has powerful lights on hand, and after reading on the internet that worms can be spotted when held to up a powerful light, I inspected each piece meticulously. Luckily, no worms, though it did take me about 15 minutes to pull myself together… it’s really not fun to find parasites in the food you almost ate—makes you think twice.
So, it should be noted that my chowder was missing the ½ pound of Cod I listed in the ingredients.
3. Once potatoes begin to soften, add all your fish—Cod, Haddock, shrimp, smoked oysters, smoked mussels, and imitation crab. Also add corn, parsley, and butter (cut into little chunks and distribute evenly across the mix). Fold mixture a couple times to mix everything well, and once the butter has melted, add the additional 2 cups of water. Also add spices. Bring to a gentle boil.
4. Meanwhile, dissolve 2 tbsp of flour in 4 cups of whole milk—add to the chowder with a ½ can of evaporated milk, and make sure to stir often so everything heats evenly. Once the milk begins to ‘breath’ (or looks like it’s trying to bubble), give it a taste to see if you need any more spices. Otherwise, your chowder is ready—Bon appetit!
If anyone has any tweaks, suggestions, or reviews, be sure to leave a comment! Like any recipe, this is just to get you started. ☺