Category : Soup
Preparation time : 1 hour
Serves : 8 large bowls
Cost : USD13.25
When an idea comes into my mind, I sometimes find myself compelled to make it happen. And I had this idea to make a seafood chowder this week. Even with an incomplete set – there were no crabs at the market – I moved ahead anyway and it turned out very flavourful. I held back on using any cream. This is my version of a seafood chowder.
A chowder is a type of soup or stew (thicker) which is often prepared with milk, cream and thickened with either crackers, biscuit or a roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat cooked together to thicken a soup or sauce. In this case, I added the flour to the vegetable oil I was using. Sometimes, it’s just oil and flour whisked over the stove but in this instance, I had already added the chopped trifecta of vegetables to the pot. So I added the flour to the mix and stirred.
The end result is a flavoursome stew which is thick and filling.
Two large fish fillets (grouper or any meaty fish is good), cut into large chunks
Five small yellowtail skad (ikan selar), cut into large slices
3 medium-sized squid cut into thick rings
5 garlic pods
2 large red onions
1 large carrot
half a celery
3 tablespoons self-raising flour
This is what I could find at the market but if you wanted, you can add far more seafood like clams, mussels, scallops, crabs and different kinds of fish. I find white fish is useful here.
1. Chop all to a similar size – onions, carrots and celery in equal portions.
2. In a small pot, I grab the fish bones and prawn skins together with coriander roots (clean off the dirt well) and make a small amount of stock. Add salt to taste. This should be simmeringly lightly for at least 30 minutes and then drained.
2. Chop the lard large (it shrinks as you cook it) and fry off in a large pot. Add 2 – 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. For decadence, switch to clarified butter (ghee) or butter. When the lard is browned, add the chopped vegetables. In retrospect, I could have done the roux at this point before adding the vegetables. You add 2 tablespoons of flour to oil (add more to make sure it’s roughly the same amount as flour) and then whisk in the pot continuously to ensure it’s not lumpy. Once this has browned a little, you can add the vegetables. Add the garlic which has been roughly chopped as well.
3. Add the seafood stock to the pot, bring it to a boil and lower to a gentle flame.
4. While this is simmering, grab a small frying pan and fry the fish fillets, prawns and cuttlefish in a little oil and add salt to taste. Keep aside. The seafood cooks very fast so you want to only fry this for about two minutes or under. The reason I fry this here instead of just adding it to the soup is to avoid boiling seafood and ensuring there’s added flavour to the soup. I add the fish, prawns and cuttlefish only towards the end when I know the soup is done as I don’t want to cook it any further. While the soup is simmering, add salt to taste and adjust the water level to the consistency you want. If you want it thicker, you can lower the flame and keep it simmering. If you want to thin it, add just a little more water.
5. Serve warm with fresh bread.