AS I TYPE I am eating seafood chowder I made earlier in the week, the recipe for which I promised (on Twitter) to post. There’s a story that goes along with it. I came to make the chowder because I had leftover fish from a care group meeting. I heard someone say they never make fish because they don’t know what to do with it. Like lots of people. Like me.
My fish repertoire is tiny. And I think any girl (or boy) who grew up as close to the Atlantic Ocean as I did ought to know how to make a piece of fish. But alas, but childhood exposure was mainly frozen fish sticks, every Friday. Religiously.
I decided the following week, since we’d be meeting at my house, to bake the simplest fish, unbreaded and only lightly seasoned, and serve it with lemon slices. Nobody was forced to eat it – there were plenty of other things there – but it went over well. I baked an extra two tilapia, just in case of I don’t know what, and that’s exactly how many were left over. So I went hunting for a seafood soup and adapted it to my purposes.
Into a deep pot over medium heat, put:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter (I always cook with unsalted)
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning blend
Saute 5 minutes.
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cook, stirring, 2 minutes.
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or broth
1 quart whole milk (I used 2%)
Bring just to a slight bubble.
3 cups corn kernels, either scraped fresh from the cob or frozen (I used the last of the corn I put up last September.)
8 ounces cooked lump crab meat (I also tossed in the leftover tilapia, broken into chunks)
Simmer 5 minutes.
Taste test. You can add a dash of hot cayenne pepper sauce, if you like (I did not.).
Remove bay leaf. Serve in bread bowls or in soup bowls. Top with sliced scallions and oyster crackers.
Adapted from Rachael Ray’s “Corn and Crab Chowder.”
Basically, the recipe is Rachael Ray’s. The story is mine.