Today I’m sharing a really special recipe for a really special reason.
This light, delicate fish chowder was one of my Mama’s signature dishes, and every time I make it I’m filled with warm memories of her amazing spirit. This recipe has been passed down through several generations of New England bred Fishermen’s wives, and I couldn’t be happier to be posting it. The special reason? Today is the day I get to officially announce my partnership with the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project!
Before we delve into the recipe, lets talk a bit about the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project and why I’m so smitten to be a part of it.
You might remember last summer when I preached the gospel of Coastal Cuisine throughout my reign on Food Network Star, but I never had a chance to bring up the very important topic of sustainability. We’ve touched on the subject a bit here before, but it’s time to delve a little deeper.
So, what exactly is sustainability, anyway? It’s a term we hear all the time these days when talking about our natural resources and food systems, and seafood happens to be both of those things.
Lets get to the root:
Able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed; Involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources ; Able to last or continue for a long time.
Making sustainable food choices means selecting foods that have been produced and sourced in ways that do not disturb or negatively impact our food systems. By taking a little time to become educated and make yourself aware of the problems that face our food systems, you can help protect our natural resources and preserve them for generations to come.
How do you go about purchasing sustainable seafood in the first place? Here’s a few tips:
- Always purchase from a reputable source. Using a local fishmonger is often your best bet, but in many areas, especially in landlocked states, such a thing just doesn’t exist. Luckily, there are tons online sources offering sustainably sourced, flash-frozen, excellent quality seafood at reasonable prices. Find some great resources here.
- Research the fish before heading to the store. Thinking of using salmon for a recipe? Read up on the different varieties of salmon on the market and make an educated choice based on your findings and what’s available.
- Ask! All reputable fishmongers should be able to tell you where your fish came from and how it was sourced. If they can’t, there’s something fishy going on and they should be avoided at all costs. (I’ve been waiting all post to make that pun so I really hope you liked it!)
For this recipe, I used Pacific Cod, as Atlantic Cod has become overfished in recent years and is now working to replenish it’s stock back up to a healthy level. However, this chowder works well with any firm fleshed fish and I strongly suggest you use whatever is easiest for you to obtain. Halibut, grouper, pollock, haddock, salmon or sea bass would all be excellent, but avoid tuna, swordfish and light flaky fish like flounder and snapper.
This chowder (chowdah!) is easily one of my favorite comfort foods because it reminds me so much of my Mom. It totally embodies her style and swagger: super simple and understated, yet warm, full of flavor and depth. She never considered herself to be a good cook, but boy did she make some really great stuff: her eggplant parm and chicken soup were to be reckoned with. This chowder isn’t thick and heavy like many cream based New England varieties tend to be. It’s super light, yet incredibly satisfying, and the flavor of the fish really shines through.
This recipe is an excellent lesson in the art of restraint. As a young cook it was (and sometimes still is) instinctual for me to always want to add more, more, more. If something was good, then more would surely be better, right? Not the case. As I’ve grown as a chef, I’ve learned that oftentimes less really is more.
I’ve tried altering this soup by adding carrots, leeks, garlic, bacon, different thickeners, white wine, clam juice, fish stock and thyme all in attempt to make it more cheffy; more gourmet. None of it worked. It’s perfect as it is.
The recipe might look a little too simple for your liking, but I’m telling you: Resist the urge to doctor it up. Make it as is. Make it as Mama Grace made it, and in turn, it will make you very happy. <3
I’m just one of many seafood lovers excited to be participating in this amazing project! Be sure to check out and give some love to all the other awesome bloggers below:
Join us June 26-28, 2015 in New Orleans for The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference!
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow or sweet onion, peeled and diced
- 8 ribs celery, diced
- 1 lb waxy potatoes (not russet), cut into large cubes
- 6 cups water
- 2 tablespoons salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1 pound sustainably caught firm white fish such as cod, halibut or haddock, cut into large cubes
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley (loosely packed)
- Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot and sauté the onion and celery with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Add in the potatoes, toss to coat, then add the water, salt and pepper. Bring the liquid up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
- Add in the fish, cover, and simmer for another 10 minutes or util the fish is cooked through. Stir in the heavy cream and fresh parsley. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
- Serve immediately with lots of crusty bread for dipping.
- This soup is even better after it sits overnight. Be sure to make enough for leftovers!