Fish of the month
Light Shellfish Chowder
Recipe Photograph copyright David Griffen 2014.
Recipe copyright Raymond Blanc 2014.
Unlike most dishes, this recipe has no specific place of birth. This means that across the world, each country has its own interpretation. In its simplest form it is a basic fish and shellfish soup, cooked in one pot! You can make it as simple as you like - you can add bacon, potato or even smoked fish to make it as filling and rich as you want or keep it simple and light.
The soup can be made completely in advance up to the final finishing stage.
For the Chowder
100ml White wine, (1)
500g Clams, washed (2)
500g Mussels, washed, beards removed(3)
30g Butter, unsalted
1 Onion, finely diced
1 Bay Leaf
1 clove Garlic, sliced
150ml Water (4)
50ml Whipping cream
2g Ginger, fresh, finely grated (optional)
2 rasps Nutmeg, ground (optional)
2tbsp Parsley, chopped
10g Wakami seaweed, quickly washed in cold water
The soup can be made completely in advance up to the final finishing stage. Variation: There are hundreds of variations you could do: For an Indian version, add some madras curry powder to the onion and then finish the dish with some lemon and coriander. For a Thai version, some chilli, garlic, lemongrass and lime leaf could be added to the onion and then the cream replaced with coconut. To create a New England style Chowder add 100g of chopped bacon and 100g of diced potato to the onions at the beginning of the cooking.
For the Chowder :
notes (*): *1 Alcohol: It is essential to boil the wine before you use it, to remove most of the harsh alcohol taste, leaving the fruity, acidic qualities of the wine to balance the dish. *2 Fresh Shellfish: The secret, as ever, is in the freshness of the shellfish. A fresh mussel is shiny, closed and heavy with seawater with no fishy smell. All mussels should be tightly closed and any mussels that are not should be discarded. Some of the best mussels are rope or pole grown away from the sea floor, with fresh sea water flowing between the mussels, feeding them and cleaning them at the same time. They are relatively cheap and so easy to cook that they make a great fresh, protein rich fast food. The sign of a good muscle is that it is heavy with sea water and when cooked release their juice to form a wonderful sauce. *3 Clean shells - Do not scrub the shells with a knife as whilst cooking the colour will transfer to the juices and give a very unappetising grey appearance. Discard any mussels that don not open as they are dead. Always buy the freshest shellfish. When any shellfish dies it begins to decompose by releasing harmful toxins into its flesh, this is only noticed through us in the form of food poisoning. *4 Water: I use water for this recipe as its neutral flavour really lets the fresh shellfish taste come through. Using milk would make a richer chowder, but the flavour would not be as clean and fresh or you could replace the water with a light shellfish stock.<br *5 Preparation: This recipe can be made in advance to this stage of the recipe and stored in your fridge for a day.