Chow-Down Chowder

 Seafood Chowder

Chowder is a dish seldom found outside North America. The anatomy of a chowder can be briefly described as a thick creamy soup, typically with clams or other fish. Most common of all chowders is the New England Clam Chowder. Then you’ve got Manhattan Clam Chowder which is made with tomatoes, and there’s also seafood chowder, or the entirely out of the box – corn chowder. Because clams are so rare to find here in Norway, I’ve decided to share my seafood chowder.

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Setting up the base is key for a luscious rich chowder. Keep in mind, I will always be referring to the New England base when I say chowder, unless otherwise specified. As long as you have the base, you can add pretty much anything you want, whether it’s only clams, or a cornucopia of your favorite seafood. Personally, I prefer a little surprise in every bite. If you’re making a seafood chowder, then aim for at least three different kinds of fish and textures.

Most chowder recipes use a milk base and are typically finished off with cream. I use creamy puréed potatoes cooked in a stock as the thickener for my base. Butter and flour is also used when sautéing the aromatics, but it’s the potatoes that give this chowder a silky smooth texture. And to push the limits of richness, I finish the chowder with a 20% fat cream.

As far as the fish is concerned, that’s up to you. I use what I can find on that particular day I make the chowder. Availability and costs are two major factors when it comes to seafood, my only advice is to steer clear of heavily brined fish in cans, though I would make the exception for canned clams since most of the flavor of clams come from their sweet and salty juices.chowder2

Seafood Chowder

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Print

  • 1½ liters (6 cups) fish or chicken stock
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 red chilies, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 1 cup cereal/food cream
  • 200g cod
  • 200g shrimp/scampi
  • 8 jumbo scallops, halved
  • 200g crab or lobster knuckles

1. Peel the potatoes. Reserve 2 full potatoes and cut the other four into small bites. Soak cut up potatoes in cold water until needed.

2. Bring stock to boil. With the 2 reserved potatoes, cut into quarters or eighths and simmer in the stock until they break apart when a fork is inserted. About 15-20 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, place the boiled potatoes in a blender and add half the stock. Very carefully blend the potatoes and stock until creamy and smooth. Pour back with the rest of the stock and stir well. Keep warm over medium heat.

4. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add celery, chives and chilies. Stir for 3-5 min until softened. Sprinkle flour into the pot and continue stirring for another 3 mins to cook out the flour, but don’t let brown. Ladle the thick stock into the pot, stirring rapidly to avoid lumps. Gradually add more stock while stirring.  Pour remainder of stock into the pot. Add parsley, thyme, and salt.

5. Drain the soaking potatoes and add to the simmering chowder base. Finally, add the cream and reduce heat to low. Stir well.

6. When adding the different fish, you can partially cook it first, or cook it in the chowder. If using jumbo shrimp, cut in half and cook in the chowder. For the cod and scallops, liberally sprinkle salt and pepper  over both sides and sear to develop a deeper flavor, but do not overcook.  Also, if using fish filets, cut into large chunks after searing.

7. The chowder is ready when the potatoes are tender. Taste for seasoning before serving. Pour each serving into a bowl and finish with the seared scallops, crab or lobster meat, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.  Serve piping hot with a crunchy baguette.

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chowder4Enjoy!

14 thoughts on “Chow-Down Chowder

  1. Along the central California coast, there is this wonderful little place on the pier that serves the best seafood chowder. Its made with scallops, clams and lobster – nice chunks of potato, and tender bite-size pieces of carrot for a little added color. The base is particularly flavorful and thick. I’ve never been able to get the base quite right – but I think you may have solved the mystery with the puree potato. Going to have to give it a try. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Scallops, like any fish, to cook perfectly comes down to practice. Unfortunately, it can be expensive and frustrating to get right. Here are a few tips I follow to get the perfect scallop:

      1. If using frozen scallops, be sure they are completely thawed. And with fresh or thawed scallops, give them a quick rinse to avoid any sand.

      2. Pat them dry. This is absolute. Throwing a wet scallop in a pan will only boil it and destroy it. Be sure they’re dry.

      3. Salt and pepper them just seconds before cooking. If you salt them too soon then the moisture is drawn to the surface, giving you a wet scallop.

      4. Preheat a non-stick pan over medium high heat for about 3 minutes. Teflon will deteriorate over high heat so you want to make sure the pan gradually and evenly heats.

      5. To get that perfect sear requires oil. You can oil the pan or the scallops but either way you need oil. About a tablespoon will be fine. When placing the scallops in the pan work from the outside in.

      6. And finally the timing. Timing is all about the heat and the thickness of the scallop. Typically with large scallops, sliced in half, each half is roughly ½ inch(1.5cm) thick. If you’ve followed the above tips, then you should see a golden sear within 30-45 seconds per side. And don’t forget to salt the top side before flipping.

      If you have to cook multiple batches, be sure to wipe the pan each time, otherwise the new batch will stick.

      Hope that helps. Also, after going through all that to get the perfect scallop, don’t just throw it in a hot soup or chowder. Set them on top so the heat keeps them warm but doesn’t cook them into rubber bullets. Enjoy!!😃👍

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome. It was no problem at all. Anybody who takes the time to read my posts and wants to try any of my recipes, I’m happy to answer any questions or elaborate on any points. Even of you just try the scallops, I hope my tips help.😃

        Liked by 2 people

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