Classic Irish Seafood Chowder!

By Published On: July 22nd, 2016Categories: Soup0 Comments on Classic Irish Seafood Chowder!

Go into any Irish pub that serves food and you’re bound to find Seafood Chowder. It’s one of my favorites and after trying about 100 bowls came up with this recipe. I think the broth made with the bones of 3 turbot is in part what made this chowder so yummy, but the bones of any white fish would work well.

I made the broth a day ahead which made putting this chowder together fairly simple, but there are still quite a few steps.

I was offered the bones of several fish when I purchased a whole turbot at the Galway Farmers Market. Turbot (scientific name: Scophthalmus Maximus) is highly prized for its delicate flavor. It’s native to North Atlantic, Mediterranean and Baltic Seas, but is also being farm-raised in the Achille Islands off the western coast of Ireland. Mine was a wild one!

The turbot is front left.

Turbot is a lot like flounder. It’s a flat, round bottom feeder. I baked the whole fish in a little butter, white wine, garlic, salt and pepper at 350 degrees  (#6 on my Irish gas range) for 25 minutes. You will know it’s done when the meat is opaque and flakes easily. It has the sweetness of lobster. Really delicious! I added my cooked bones to the carcass of 2 more uncooked turbot to make the broth.

Put bones in a big kettle with a mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery; aka the Holy Trinity!). I used leeks instead of onion and also added a big clove of smashed garlic and some herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley and sage) along with salt and pepper. Cover with water to make about 6 cups. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat and let simmer at least 3 hours. The broth will become reduced to about 4 cups. Cool completely and strain to make a clear broth. Keep covered in fridge until ready to use.

The broth has become gel since I made it day before. That’s pure goodness!

Chowder Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 small potatoes, peeled and diced (I used new Irish potatoes.)
1 small onion, peeled and diced
3 cups fish stock
1 cup milk
1/2 cups cream
3 Tbsp. Butter
1/3 cup flour
1 cup mussel broth
1/2 cup white wine
White fish (I used cod.), about 3/4 lb. Cut into bite-sized pieces
Salmon, about 3/4 lb. Cut into bite-sized pieces
Mussels, about 1 cup cooked and removed from shell
Baby shrimp, about 1 cup cooked
1 tsp. Fresh Tarragon, finely diced
Salt/White pepper to taste

Cook the garlic, carrots, potato and onion in 3 cups of fish broth until just barely tender. Do not over cook as it cooks again after adding more ingredients.

While veg are cooking make a roux with butter, flour, milk and cream.  Roux (pronounced roo) is the base for 3 of the 5 French ‘Mother’ sauces, Bechamel, Espagnole, and Veloute. In France roux is made with equal parts butter and flour.

Melt butter, add flour (If you want a thicker chowder use 1/2 cup flour. I don’t like my chowder super thick.), and cook the butter and flour for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Add milk and cream. Keep stirring. Traditionally you’d use a whisk, but I prefer a rubber spatula.

Roux will be lumpy at first, but keep stirring until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 15 minutes. Slowly add mussel broth and white wine. Keep stirring.

Add tarragon. Season with salt/white pepper. Mix the roux into the veg and fish stock. Cook gently over medium heat for 30 minutes to bring flavors together.

Remove any “beards”–the little pieces of seaweed looking hair sticking out of shells. Soak mussels in cold water for about an hour. Keep rinsing until all sand, grit, shell pieces are removed and mussels look clean. Place the mussels in a big pot. Cover with water, add salt, pepper, garlic and chopped onion and some herbs. I used parsley, thyme, tarragon and a sage leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook until shells just open-about 15 minutes. Drain. Save broth.

You can clean and cook mussels up to a day in advance.

Add uncooked fish to chowder broth. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cooked mussels and shrimp. Adjust seasoning. This chowder gets better with time so you can make the whole soup in the morning or day before. It lasts well for up to 5 days.

Serve with chopped chives or have it plain. Great with a green salad and chunky bread!

This Seafood Chowder is rich, creamy and comforting. Perfect for an Irish summer day–55 degrees today with steady drizzle! My Arizona friends may want to wait until December to make this!







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