Here are my Top Tips For Chowder:
- Seafood Chowder Packs are available from fishmongers and supermarkets with a selection of diced salmon, smoked fish and white fish. These are ready to use, economical and a convenient shortcut to making this already super quick dish. If they are on special offer, buy a few packs and freeze them. This way you will always have the fish on hand for a healthy, speedy meal.
- Prawns are lovely in a chowder and I favour the frozen ones. The small pink prawns, called ‘Boston’ prawns are fine. Just make sure they are hot through but don’t overcook as they will turn to rubber. Three to five minutes should do it. For a real treat get big, juicy tiger prawns. Available frozen from your fishmonger or Asian market. These can be cooked from frozen or defrosted by running under a cold tap until all the ice is rinsed off. They are cooked through when they are pink and firm, it only takes minutes.
- Frozen vegetables are a great standby if you don’t have fresh vegetables to hand. For chowder use frozen sweetcorn, peas and carrots. These are lovely and sweet and work perfectly in a chowder. Frozen veg is frozen within two hours of harvesting so is packed with goodness. I always have some in the freezer. Frozen veg also saves on waste as you wont end up discarding surplus fresh veg that you haven’t ended up using.
- Fish stock can be ever so iffy to buy, worst case scenario it’s grey and stinky fishy. It can be difficult to find a good fish stock and unless you eat a lot of fish, you’re unlikely to make your own from the bones. I recommend Pure Brazen, an Irish company, who produce fresh stocks that are gluten free, low salt, additive free and taste delicious. For stockists see their website www.purebrazen.com
- Potato gnocchi are fantastic as little dumplings in stews and soups. You can make your own or get the shop bought ones. Pop them into the chowder and simmer for 10 minutes. They become melting and soft and the starch helps to thicken the chowder for an extra luxurious texture. A great Pantry Pal to add something special.
- Fresh herbs finish off a chowder perfectly. You can use a mixture of herbs or just your favourite one. I love using chives, dill or flat leaf parsley. Tarragon is an interesting choice for a different twist. Add the herbs for the last few minutes of cooking or use as a garnish.
- Cream in my opinion is essential to finish off a good chowder. You don’t need much if you are using good quality ingredients but it really does bring all the flavours together. The smoked fish gives the creamy liquid a gorgeous taste so you don’t need to season heavily with salt.
- Mashed potato is the ideal topping if you make a really thick chowder and you want to turn it into pie. Pour the chowder into a baking dish and spread over the mashed potato. Top with grated cheese, freshly grated nutmeg or a sprinkle of paprika. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes at 200°C until golden and bubbling.
- Puff Pastry is another great chowder pie topping. Defrost if using the frozen variety. Roll out and place over the pie. Brush with some beaten egg for a golden crusty finish and poke some holes to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 20 minutes at 220°C until golden and flakey.
- Baked potato will never be the same again with a chowder topping. It really is a match made in heaven. The creamy sauce oozes into the potato and the flakey fish and juicy prawns go so well with a fluffy oven baked spud.
Wherever, whenever and whoever you eat this with …..enjoy!