Chow­der

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Life - - CONTENTS - by Shane Deane Shane Deane is ex­ec­u­tive sous chef in Hay­field Manor Ho­tel, Per­rott Ave, Cork, tel: (021) 484-5900, or see hay­field­manor.ie In con­ver­sa­tion with Sarah Caden

Ir­ish peo­ple don’t re­ally like fish, but we love chow­der. It’s not over­whelm­ingly fishy, and we all love any­thing creamy. Too creamy is a mis­take when it comes to chow­der, though. It over­whelms the sub­tle flavours of the veg­eta­bles and the var­i­ous fish, and it can be too heavy and rich. With this recipe, the pota­toes are re­ally the thick­en­ing in­gre­di­ent. A lit­tle cream is good, though, as the fat en­hances all the flavours. By mak­ing the soup first, with the pota­toes and the smoked had­dock, and then blend­ing it, you get a lovely smooth tex­ture. Then I add some cubed fish and shell­fish and chopped veg, to give bite and in­ter­est. The crack­ers, for gar­nish, give a lovely ex­tra tex­ture. It’s very easy to make your own fish stock. Ask your fish­mon­ger for fish bones; get them from a flat fish, such as plaice or sole, as they have bet­ter flavour. Put the bones in a pot of cold wa­ter with some chopped car­rot, onion and cel­ery, bring it to the boil, im­me­di­ately turn it down to sim­mer and leave it sim­mer­ing gen­tly for about 30 min­utes. That’s it. It’s quick and very sim­ple, but it’s very im­por­tant not to leave it boil­ing or the stock will go cloudy and bit­ter.

Serves 8.

You will need: ½ each leek, onion and fen­nel bulb, all chopped 1 stick of cel­ery, chopped 1 ta­ble­spoon of olive oil 20ml ( ¾ fl oz) white wine 10 strands saf­fron 400ml (14fl oz) fish stock 50g (1 ¾ oz) smoked had­dock 1 large potato, cut into small cubes 200ml (7fl oz) milk 300ml (11fl oz) cream Salt and freshly ground black pep­per ½ each car­rot, stick of cel­ery, fen­nel bulb, all finely chopped and blanched 75g (2 ½ oz) se­lec­tion of fish in 1cm (less than ½ in) cubes (cod, salmon, smoked had­dock) 25g (1oz) mus­sels and clams Crack­ers to gar­nish — 2 crack­ers per bowl

Method: Saute the chopped leek, the chopped onion, the chopped fen­nel bulb and the chopped cel­ery in a ta­ble­spoon of olive oil over a medium heat. When the chopped veg­eta­bles are soft, add the white wine and the saf­fron threads and re­duce the liq­uid to al­most noth­ing. Add the fish stock, the smoked had­dock and the potato cubes. Re­duce the liq­uid by half, then add the milk and the cream and re­duce a lit­tle. Sea­son with salt and freshly ground black pep­per. Blend the mix­ture, then pass it through a fine strainer. Re­turn the strained, smooth soup to a pot and add the finely chopped, blanched car­rot, the finely chopped, blanched cel­ery and the finely chopped, blanched fen­nel and the cubed se­lec­tion of fish. Bring to the boil, then re­duce heat and sim­mer un­til the fish is al­most cooked — a few min­utes — then add the mus­sels and clams and cook for a fur­ther minute. Serve in bowls with the crack­ers crushed on top.

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