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Friday, 23 February 2018

Seafood Chowder

Many people ask me what is a chowder -

quite simply it is a thick soup made with seafood or corn and often thickened using potatoes.  The recipe I am sharing with you uses flour as the thickening agent but I intend in a later post to show the same recipe using potato.

The key to a good chowder is in the stock.  I always make a good fish stock to use as the base for this - my fish stock recipe can be found here

More often than not I am making my seafood chowder for use in the restaurant so I tend to make a base and then finish the dish when it is ordered.  From my point of view if I put all the seafood in and then served the chowder some time later I will be re-heating and then over cooking the seafood.

So, to make the base.

1) Finely chop an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic

2) In a saucepan gently melt 50g of butter with the onion and garlic then stir in 50g flour to make a roux

3) Add your fish stock a little at a time mixing it well with the roux.  As the stock heats with the roux it will thicken.  Keep adding stock until you get a nice rich creamy texture.  Season this soup base well with salt and pepper.

4) You can keep this soup base in the fridge for upto 3 days or we can carry on and make the chowder

Now make the chowder

1) using either fresh or frozen seafood - I normally use both, fresh mussels and some mixed frozen seafood - start cooking it in a pan with some butter.  As the mussels start to open add a tablespoon of brandy and flame it over the heat.
2) remove the seafood from the pan leaving as much of the juices and brandy as possible and ladle in your chowder base

3) bring to the boil and add a good measure of double cream

4) add the seafood back to the pan, check the seasoning and serve with some nice warm crusty bread

Friday, 22 January 2016

Monkfish Tail wrapped in Serrano Ham with Mussels and Pasta

Until recently monkfish was not widely used.  It is an incredibly ugly fish with an enormous head full of razor sharp teeth - but the tail, oh the tail is wonderful eating!  And more recently we have started eating the cheeks from the head which like cod cheeks are beautiful and tender.

This particular dish uses the monkfish tail still on the bone to give extra flavour and wrapped in serrano ham then roasted in the oven.  The sauce is made with fresh mussels, garlic, wine, tomato and a splash of cream.  I like to serve the dish with pasta but the options are endless.

It is possible to buy good quality frozen monkfish tails but if possible you are so much better buying fresh. The fresh tail normally has the skin attached, this can be easily removed by literally pulling it towards the end of the tail.  Alternatively, ask your fish monger to do this for you.

Once you have removed the skin run your knife down either side of the bone before wrapping the ham round it. This helps allow the heat into the fish while cooking.

Wrap the ham round the fish, lightly oil with some olive oil and place in a pre-heated oven at about 200C.

The monkfish will take about 12 minutes to cook. To check that the fish is cooked squeeze it gently with thumb and forefinger at the meatiest part.  The flesh should feel firm and slightly springy.  Properly cooked monkfish should be tender and moist, if it is overcooked it will dry out.

While the monkfish is in the oven you can cook the pasta.  If you want to make your own pasta here is a recipe Click Here

When you take the monkfish from the oven set it to one side and allow it rest like you would a piece of meat.  The juices that run out can be added to the sauce giving some extra flavour.

To make the sauce.  Put a knob of butter, a chopped clove of garlic and some fresh mussels in a pan over a high heat.  As the mussels start opening add a glass of dry white wine.  Let the wine reduce, add a couple of spoonsfull of tinned chopped tomatoes, some cherry toms, the juices from the monkfish and a splash of cream.  Bring the whole lot to the boil and let thicken slightly.  Check the seasoning and add salt if required. The mussels can be removed once they have opened before over cooking them. Discard any mussels that do not open.

To serve slice the fish down either side of the bone and arrange the fillets on a plate with the mussels and pasta and top off with plenty of sauce.