UMAMI MART MATSURI FESTIVAL
I'm still hopeful that winter will make its curtain call as scheduled, despite the seemingly unrelenting frigidness of late. So to get through this late-stage frostiness I knew some hearty comfort food would be in order, and homemade chowder fit the bill.

I used a recipe I had for Portsmouth Seafood Chowder from BG's Boat House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and am sharing it with you here, with a few minor adjustments of my own, as usual. Please pardon the substandard quality of the photos, as Vanessa was not on hand this time around so I had to rely on my cheap point n' shoot. Trust me though, this tastes much much better than the photos would indicate.

Portsmouth Seafood Chowder
(serves 6 as main or 12 as 1st course)
2 lbs haddock, cod, or other whitefish (cod was freshest available so that's what I used)
3/4 lb sea scallops, thoroughly rinsed and chopped into 3/4-inch dice (I used smaller Mexican Bay Scallops and skipped dicing)
2 cups clam juice
4 cups water
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning blend
2 lbs all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 lb bacon (4-5 slices), finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place fish and scallops in large pot. Add clam juice, water, and Old Bay, and bring just to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes, so that seafood is slightly, but not completely, cooked through. Remove pan from heat and set aside but do not drain.

2. Boil potatoes in enough salted water to cover, for about 10 minutes, until just tender. Drain and reserve potatoes.

3. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until bacon is cooked halfway. Add the onion and cook about 10 more minutes, until onion is softened and bacon is browned.

4. Remove the seafood with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl. In another bowl, combine the cornstarch and a small amount of cold water and mix until dissolved (cornstarch will become clumpy and won't dissolve if you use hot water). Whisk 1/2 cup of the seafood poaching liquid in the dissolved cornstarch until smooth. Bring the pot of seafood poaching liquid to a simmer and slowly whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly until the base is smooth and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the seafood, potatoes, and bacon-onion mixture to the pot, and reduce to a simmer. Stir in the half and half and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and turn off heat.

5. Refrigerate for at least an hour or for up to 2 days (I recommend at least overnight refrigeration to really allow the flavors to come together). Just prior to serving, reheat gently over low to medium-low heat and adjust seasonings by adding more salt and freshly ground pepper if necessary.

This is a really easy recipe which requires only a little planning ahead for optimal results. For the hands-down best pairing I proudly suggest a big, buttery, oaky California Chardonnay (anyone who'd suggest otherwise doesn't know shit about wine pairing). Peace out.
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3 comments

  • Sure you can thicken w/something else, though the restaurant’s original recipe called for cornstarch. Chowders are also thickened using starchy potatoes (southern New England style) or flour (Boston style, also known as New England style chowder).

    Don’t know if you can tell by the picture, but my chowder wasn’t too thick, and isn’t really supposed to be so. The more famous New England style chowders tend to be thick, but in Maine, New Hampshire, and various other parts of NE the chowders are rather milky, which I often prefer that way.

    Paystyle on

  • This looks delicious, Pay!!! What are your thoughts on thickening without corn starch? Es possible?

    kayoko on

  • I'm coming to this late (via a search), but I have to disagree that "in Maine, New Hampshire, and various other parts of NE the chowders are rather milky"

    That may be true in southern Maine, which the rest of the state thinks of as the northernmost suburbs of Boston. Everywhere else, including the bigger fishing towns (you know, where they actually catch the clams), it's thick.

    Brian on

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