Maybe it’s the little bit of dampness in the air as we come out of the deep freeze and enter a few days of false spring. Or, maybe it’s the fact that in 17 days, 20 hours and 15 minutes we will be stepping onto a little island in the Bahamas where, for 10 whole days, we will be in seafood paradise – boiled crab, grilled fish and, inevitably, conch prepared a hundred different ways.
Or, and this is more likely now that I think of it, maybe I’ve given in to L’s insistence that a big hunk of gravy-soaked red meat with mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding isn’t part of a healthy diet three times a week.
OK, just kidding – we only have that twice a week. Anyway, whatever the reason, I have been craving seafood lately. And, as usual, I have done what I always do with cravings. I gave in.
To me, there is no better way to get a fast fish fix than a classic bowl of chowder. The secret is in the stock. Once you have a good fish stock, you’re off to the races (you can go to the races, I’m going to the Bahamas – did I mention that?). Here’s my recipe for a basic fish stock . All you need besides stock are some good Yukon gold potatoes, a couple of onions, some celery, carrots and a little cream. Cut up some fresh bread, close your eyes and inhale. I guarantee you’ll be on the beach in an instant. (I will be on the beach in 17 days, 20 hours and 14 minutes. Just saying.)
8 cups home-made fish stock
4 medium to large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small onions, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 stocks of celery, finely diced
3 lbs fish (mix of cod, haddock, salmon etc), cut into bite-sized pieces
or, 2 lbs fish (see above), one pound bay scallops
1/4 cup flour
1 cup 35% cream
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley for garnish
2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil
In a large stock pot, sauté the onions, carrot and celery in butter and olive oil until the onions are translucent. Stir in cayenne and flour.
Add the potatoes and fish stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until potatoes are fork tender.
Add fish (and scallops, if using) and simmer until fish is translucent (about five minutes). Stir in cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper.
Garnish with chopped parsley.