Is there anything more satisfying than a big steaming hot bowl of Seafood chowder and brown soda bread to dip into it. I’ve been making variations of chowder as long as I can remember and every household I am sure has their own version of this simple yet utterly delicious ,lick the bowl dish. Visit any establishement in Ireland and depending on whether you are near the coast counties and its packed with fresh shellfish or move inland where cream is doubled up ,chowder comes in many many variations ,but one thing is guaranteed I haven’t met one yet I didn’t like.
For me it is a balance, some love it oozing with cream, others prefer a slightly looser texture, I veer towards somewhere in the middle, and love the saltiness of the fresh shellfish and crispy bacon coming through the cream.
Here is my version of homemade seafood chowder, the best bit is that you can use this as a soup, a dinner, starter on its own. It goes lovely over vol-auvants or even as a fish pie mix with layers of mash or even with pasta as a seafood pasta dish, the recipe is so versatile and best of all its a true family dish as even the kids will lick the plate clean. What I love most is that it is a great introduction to fish and shellfish for kids , my two have loved this from very young, obviously waiting until after one to taste shellfish (incase of allergies) and ask for it most weeks to this day for dinner.
black cracked pepper
wholegrain mustard -this is my special ingredient
white, smoked coley
Optional – add shellfish such as prawns and mussels at the end
Also optional -sometimes I will add sweetcorn nibs to the chowder to give it another little crunch and the sweetcorn gives a lovely sweet kick
Fry off your chopped onion, bacon bits until soft and cooked through and then add in one tablespoon of flour, coating your onion and bacon.
Add in your chicken stock ( you could use fish stock too but I love the flavour chicken stock gives) I use a stockpot to approx 500ml of water. Add in your chopped potato and carrot ensuring both are covered with the water (if not add a small bit more) and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes.
Next add in your seasoning a teaspoon of each along with a tablespoon of the wholegrain mustard and add 500ml of milk.
Add your fish mix ( hake,smoked coley ,salmon or a seafood mix prepacked by the supermarket) and allow the fish to cook through, this should take between five to ten minutes of simmering.
Add your shellfish next, I always cook the mussels separately so add the uncooked prawns next and then a few minutes later once the prawns are pink add in some mussells without the shell, (leaving some shelled for presentation if serving at a dinner party) and then add your tub of single cream or creme fraiche for slightly slightly healthier option,don’t let the chowder come to the boil at this stage or it could curdle.
As chowder to me is comfort food and also a firm favourite of the kids, I like to add the full cream most of the time.
By the way it’s mandatory to serve chowder with a form of soda bread or crusty rolls whether they’re homemade or shop-bought, which ever is easiest and enjoy 🙂