Thank heavens for New England (Seafood Chowder)

Seafood chowder

Not that I doubt its charm, but I have never been particurly interested in going to the United States, with the exception of New York City and New England. I have always been interested in this chowder business. I always try and stop in at the Sydney Fish Markets when I go to town, and this week’s trip was no exception. I decided to try my hand at this incredible sounding dish. I wanted to use salmon, mussels, cockles and squid and bought a fish head to make the stock. All they had on offer was the head and carcass of salmon. While ordinarily salmon would be too fatty to make a good stock with, I thought it would go down a treat in this case, because I wanted to make a creamy soup, with salmon in it. I made the stock as soon as I got home, so I wouldn’t need the fish head in the fridge. I picked the lovely meat off the bones and blended it up with an egg, a little almond meal, and a little of the leek from the stock to make a delicious salmon patty mix. I served them up in the seeded sourdough baguette from Central Baking Depot, a little watercress (though rocket would have been lovely too), mayonnaise and squeeze of lemon juice. I was proud of my efficient and delicious use of produce. The salmon patties only increased my anticipation for this evening’s chowder. We called into Choku Bai Jo get the most buttery potatoes we could find. I was very happy with the Nicola’s I picked up. With a lemon, a little pot of cream and a small slab of speck, my shopping was complete! I was very much looking forward to the arrival of our friend and his two sons, and got myself busy in the kitchen so dinner would be ready upon their arrival. Heavens did the chowder turn out well! Silken smooth soup, with great depth and complexity of flavour and seafood cooked to perfection! I was very content. I do wonder what someone from Maine would say about it?

Serves 6

Stock

1.5 kilogram salmon head and carcass
1   leek
1   carrot
2 stalk celery
12   peppercorns
2   bay leaves
2 cloves garlic

Soup

500 grams Nicola potatoes (or other buttery potato)
2 teaspoons butter
1   Spanish onion, diced
  grams speck, diced
5 peels lemon zest
1 cup white wine
2 litres fish stock (from above)
400 grams cockles
400 grams mussels
    salmon belly offcuts
1 Medium sized squid
1/4 cup light cream
    smoked sea salt, fresh ground black pepper

To make stock: combine all ingredients in a stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, removing surface scum. Simmer for one hour. Rest to cool. Strain stock through a colander to remove large flavourings, then a sieve to remove any impurities. If you have much more than two litres, wash out the pot and return the stock to the stove to reduce to approximately two litres. This is the point I removed the meat from the fish bones to reserve for another purpose. I prepared the stock a couple of days in advance and kept it in the fridge.

To make soup: In a large saucepan, melt butter and cook the onion very slowly, until sweet and translucent. Meanwhile, peel, wash and chop potatoes into approximately equal sized pieces. Add potato to the saucepan. Cover with cold stock and bring to the boil till potatoes are well cooked. Blend potato and cooking liquid to a fine puree. Set aside. Wash out the saucepan. On a medium heat, cook diced speck till golden and crispy. Deglaze the pan with the wine and add remaining fish stock and lemon zest cook seafood in batches till just done and distribute evenly among serving bowls. Leave the shellfish till last and pile them high in the bowl to ensure the most effective presentation once the soup is added. Remove lemon zest from the pan. Add potato mix and fish stock to the pan and return to the simmer. Remove from heat, stir through cream, season with smoked sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Gently ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh ground black pepper, a little extra cream and some black salt (if you have some).

Bon appétit!

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