HEARTY AND RICH
Heading to the local fishmonger is probably the best way to find fresh seafood. In Europe, there is one on every corner, kind of like Starbucks here. It is really important to buy fresh. Many people do not like seafood because they have always eaten frozen or less-than-fresh fish. When you buy fresh, it makes all the difference and I have converted many non-seafood lovers with this little switch. Some things to look for include:
1. Fish should not smell too fishy. If it does, it is usually a sign it has been out for a while.
2. The flesh should be free of dark spots and firm and tight in texture.
3. Shop at a reputable fish monger. If you live on the coast, look into docks where fresh fish is sold.
4. The gills of a fish should be pinkish or red in colour, not grey.
This seafood chowder is an incredible recipe adapted from the Pacific Rim Chowder recipe from the Eat St. cookbook. This cookbook is a collection of food truck recipes and this particular one comes from Redfish Bluefish in Victoria, British Columbia. A coworker of mine made it and thought it would be something I would really enjoy and she, herself, was raving about it so I had to give it a try.
I did make some small adjustments to the original simply because of preference:
1. I reduced the carrots, celery, potato and onion from 1.5 C to 1 C because, even though I know chowder should be chunky, I prefer a less chunky, thick soup. It was plenty chunky.
2. I only used 2 cans of coconut milk instead of 3 and they were lite rather than regular.
3. I skipped the 1/2 C of sweet chili sauce because I am not a fan.
6. I used butter instead of oil.
7. I reduced the amount of garlic from 1/4 C to 6 cloves.
8. I did not include the extra hot sauce.
10. I peeled, chopped and sautéed 3 tomatoes in olive oil in place of a can of crushed tomatoes.
Making the recipe is pretty simple once your ingredients are prepped. Have everything ready to go which means all vegetables are washed and cut in small pieces. The potato pieces will need to be parboiled ahead of time for about 6 or 7 minutes. Cans should be opened. For the corn, you will strain the liquid but reserve it as it will be used in the broth. Garlic should be minced. Chipotle peppers should be blended. Seafood should be cut into bite-sized and even pieces so they cook in about the same time.
Once your ingredients are ready to go, prepare everything is a large pot. Add butter and soften all the vegetables and spices in the butter. Rather than use canned, crushed tomatoes, I simply sauté 3 fresh tomatoes in a Tbsp of olive oil to create a similar effect for about 10 minutes.
Once the vegetables are ready, add all the liquids and bring the soup to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes. If you prefer a lighter soup, you may add some water or broth during the simmering stage. If you prefer a thicker soup, you may whisk a thickening agent in like flour.
The final addition will be the seafood. It cooks quickly and will get rubbery if overcooked. Add the evenly cut seafood pieces and simmer for another 5 minutes. A good way to tell if the seafood is cooked is by having a look at the prawns. They will be pinkish in colour and will no longer have any grey. They will also be firm to the touch.
I added very little salt as a health conscious option. However, you may want to adjust the salt if you prefer more flavour once the soup is done. Garnish your soup with some cilantro.
1 can (12 oz) corn kernels (liquid reserved)
1 Tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 C each of diced carrot, celery, onion, parboiled potato
6 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp each sea salt and pepper
1 can (14 oz) ( or 3 tomatoes sautéed) crushed tomatoes
2 cans (14 oz each) lite coconut milk
1 large Tbsp chipotle in adobe sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
14 medium deveined prawns (cut in 1/3)
18 medium scallops (cut in 1/4)
200 g halibut
1/4 C chopped cilantro (for garnish)
1. Heat butter in a medium-high heat pot.
2. Strain corn but reserve the liquid.
2. Add corn, carrot, celery, onion, potato, garlic, salt, and pepper.
3. Cook until vegetables are soft 10-15 minutes
6. Add corn liquid, tomatoes, coconut milk, Worcestershire and chipotles to the vegetables.
7. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Stir in seafood and let cook for about 5 more minutes.
9. Taste test and adjust salt.
9. Garnish with cilantro.