Seafood Chowder & Pepper "Wine"

~   Menu   ~

Seafood Chowder without ...
Hot and Potent Pepper Wine!
A glass of Sauvignon Blanc

You know when you have a little this or that leftover and it's 'not worth keeping'?  Well it is, so there!

I keep several collecting boxes in my freezer; bread scraps, meat scraps and fish scraps, for instance.  This last collection came delightfully into play today when I made myself some Seafood Chowder. 

This was a good idea I had when I was cooking at the Tamarind Club in Tortola.  In theory it was a cunning plan to use up all the fishy scraps we had left over after preparing whole fish for other dishes.  Sadly it became so popular, especially after I had My Other Good Idea, that we were making gallons of the stuff two or three times a day. 

Seafood Chowder

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image ~ give it a go!
2 medium onions - coarsely chopped
2 carrots - coarsely chopped
2 celery stalks - coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil.
3 medium potatoes - peeled and thinly sliced
fish stock or water
a collection of fish scraps

~   Gently sweat the onion, carrot and celery in the oil till softening and just starting to colour.
~   Add the potatoes and add just enough water or stock to cover. 
~   Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and cook till the potatoes are tender.
~   Whilst this is cooking prepare your fishy scraps.  As I say this was originally a use up recipe and we had, to my mind, three categories of fish to use up: 1) raw fish, 2) raw shellfish, 3) cooked fish and shellfish.  So, whatever you have of these categories, cut into similar sized pieces but keep separately in their groups. 
~   When the potato is tender mash with a potato masher (grumpy or not!) so that they are almost smooth but a little chunkiness remains.
~   Taste and season and add milk or cream or a mixture to make a rich thick soup.
~   Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and add the raw fish scraps.
~   Return to only just boiling, add the raw shellfish, return to only just boiling one more time and  add cooked fish and shellfish. 
~   Immediately turn off heat and allow the chowder to sit a few minutes to allow the last addition to heat through. 
~   If using later REHEAT GENTLY.

This is such a brilliant method for making soup that I have written an entire soup cookbook, containing 60+ delicious soup recipes based on one easy flexible key recipe together with instructions for stock making, guidance on adding herbs, spices and other flavourings plus additional recipes for roasted garlic, pepper coulis, frazzled leeks, compound butters and other garnishes and accoutrements.

My Other Good Idea was to serve the chowder with a pretty glass bottle of “Pepper Wine” for drizzling purposes.  In this case, as is often the way in the Caribbean, pepper means chilli and wine means rum.  A little really contrasts with and enhances the creaminess of the soup.

Caribbean Pepper "Wine"

Just bung some dried chillies or even pepper flakes in a bottle of rum and wait a few weeks.  After this went on the menu there was no going back!

Soup Fritters!

This chowder featured in possibly the most bizarre thing I have ever cooked – soup fritters.  We had a very on/off function pending and, eventually, it was off,  Then suddenly one Sunday afternoon, half way through a busy brunch, I was told it was on again.  Eighty people were due in a couple of hours hoping for up-market nibbly bits.  I would have liked to panic but didn’t have the time. 

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What I did do was make fish cakes out of the remains of the seafood chowder.  I can’t remember how but if I had to do it today this is what I would do.  

Strain the chowder, reserving all lumps, and bring the juices to a boil.  Thicken quite substantially with a beurre manie (flour and butter munged together) and whisked in.  Cook a few minutes and cool a while.  Mix in reserved fish etc. and enough breadcrumbs to make a malleable consistency.  Taste and flavour up – lime zest and hot sauce spring to mind.  Spread onto a cooled shallow dish and chill to firm.  Roll into balls, flatten, coat in breadcrumbs (panko are great) and shallow fry to crisp and golden.   They were such a success people asked for the recipe but I was too embarrassed to tell them.

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