18 November 2012

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

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.

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.

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.  

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 breadbrumbs (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.

In Other News ...

I saw poppies in flower yesterday here Up North.  Um ... can't think of anything else surprising to write about. 
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