Smoked Haddock Chowder

Smoked Haddock Chowder

Are you guys still on a diet? If you were on the virtuous road of healthy eating the last few days, watch out, because I’m about to kick you off the wagon to join the rest of us blissfully ignorant, hedonistic eaters.

My relationship with the phenomenon known as chowder has been a rocky ride. The first time I tried one was when I was 13 years old. It was at a Capetonian restaurant (which has thankfully closed in the meantime) where I ordered Sweet Corn Chowder. That night I was seriously ill. I’ll spare you the gory details but needless to say since then I’ve avoided the dish like the plague.

Fast forward 14 years. (Did I just divulge my age??) Last year Neil, Gabriel and I went on a road trip through Ireland. On the last day we found ourselves back in Kilmore Quay, with hours to dawdle before the ferry left for Fishguard from Rosslare. For lunch we went to the only open restaurant, Le Poisson D’or, in the village. That awful word “chowder” appeared on the menu but strangely enough the thought of it didn’t repulse me anymore. Some call it intuition and others will just say I took a calculated risk. We were overlooking the scenic harbour, the menu boasted that the freshest ingredients were used, the chef was French and the bubbly hostess raved about the chowder and I believed her.

You know there’s a time and place to try new things. When you go to a steakhouse, it is pretty idiotic to order fish, isn’t it? After all, the restaurant’s speciality is meat. Vice versa for a fish place. It would also be best to steer clear of the soufflé item on the road diner’s menu because surely it will excel in serving you eggs, bacon and beans. If I wasn’t going to get a proper seafood chowder from a restaurant who claims to specialise in fish, then it simply meant chowder and I were incompatible; there would be no happy ending where we walk hand-in-hand, or should I say spoon-in-mouth together into the sunset.

The chowder came. It was pretty damn good. It was the best I could have hoped for. I can’t remember the last time I tasted seafood as fresh. Every mouthful was creamy and melt-in-the-mouth special. Unfortunately, it ran out too soon but I was so happy I tried it!

After experimenting in the kitchen, here is a cheaper version.

So tell me, have you overcome any food fears lately?

Smoked Haddock Chowder
Serves 4
Preparation: 20 mins – Cooking: 35 minutes

Smoked Haddock Chowder

  • 600g (1.3 lb) smoked haddock
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into small, bite-sized cubes
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g (1¾ oz) butter
  • 4 rashers bacon, finely chopped
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) plain flour
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) dried mustard
  • 2.5ml (½ tsp) Worcestershire sauce
  • 250ml (1 cup) milk
  • 200ml (7 fl oz) double (heavy) cream
  1. To make the fish stock, put the fish in a deep frying pan, add 1.25 litres (40 fl oz) of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily.
  2. Put the potato in a pan with 750ml (3 cups /24 fl oz) reserved stock. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes or until the potato is cooked. Set aside.
  3. Melt the butter in a large pan over low heat, fry the onion until almost soft, then add the bacon and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in the flour, mustard and Worcestershire sauce and cook for 1 minute, or until pale and foaming. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat and stir until the chowder boils and thickens. Reduce the heat and stir in the potato and stock mixture, then add the fish and cream. Simmer over low heat for 5 minutes, or until heated through. Season and garnish with chives or parsley.
Serving Suggestion
  • The servings are substantial because the soup is very rich. It’s a good idea to wash it down with white wine and have fresh bread on the side.
  • Smoked cod can be used instead.

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  1. says

    I never go on diet and I love fish chowder.

    I think it’s because of the umami from the potatoes :)

    Ditto Duo Dishes, fish chow recipes are a rarity, but great that I bumped into one cos Ive tried -but failed- to make a warm chowder for the winter months.

    I will fail no more!

  2. says

    Thanks gaga! Chowders like these really are irresistible. 😉

    Scott: Please do give it whirl and let me know what you think. Maybe it’s even better!

    The Duo Dishes: I’ve never tried clam chowders. Must. Go. To. Kitchen. Now.

    kang: Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones that can eat all they like and never gain an ounce. If that’s the case I’m deeply envious of people like you. Anyway, you will definitely not fail if you try this recipe.

  3. says

    Diet? hahahahahah!

    I love chowders – made a smoked salmon one over the festive season that I really must post… This one looks fab!

    Most recent food phobia that I overcame was chilli :)

  4. says

    Various questions spring to mind in this recipe.
    1 You make fish stock with the haddock (I guess) and 1.25 liitres of what? Presumably water. But then you throw away 500 mls of it. Why not just poach the fish in milk (and water if need be) and use ALL the flavour. Or do you find it;s too salty?

    Next… 8 mins to cook cubed potatoes? I’ve never found they take less than 15 mins.

    Your ingredients inlcude 200 mls of double cream. What do you do with it? There’s no mention in the recipe.

  5. says

    @Ian Hoare: Oy! It would seem as if I was drunk when I wrote this recipe but thanks to you it has all been fixed now – thank you! Now let me answer your questions…

    1) You’re right, 1.25 litres of water. Use less water and it might become too salty. If you use all the stock, simply increase the amount of fish and potato. Feel free to experiment with milk – I haven’t tried it so I’m curious to hear from you whether it turns out okay.

    2) It depends on the size of the cubed potatoes. In this case they should be small/bite-sized.

    3) The cream gets added to the very end of the cooking process.

    Hopefully this hasn’t put you off trying the recipe because you will be missing out if you don’t. 😉

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