Irish seafood Chowder – a record from Carrick-a-Rede with a Belgian variation


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Irish seafood Chowder is officially on my Top-Ten-favourite-food-list since I’ve tasted it for the first time during a trip to Ireland, last October. The Irish weather blessed my journey to Dublin and Belfast with a beautifl autumnal sun (yes, there is sun in Ireland, and it just adds more colour to that awesome, magic country) shining all day long. After a 4 hours trip from Dublin, I finally got to the northest peak of Eire, headed to the famous rope bridge of Carrick-a-rede, surrounded by a magnificent emerald landscape and a sea as crystalline as the finest glass. With my greatest ¬†happiness, after few hours spent contempling that piece of art which is the Irish generous nature (and wondering what the hell we are still doing in Belgium, overwhelmed by paperwork and burocracy, when we could just quit, easily live by the sea and fishing salmons), we found shelter from the northen cold wind in a lovely Irish Pub, where they served their “Suggestion of the Day”: a delicious, hot and creamy chowder, which definitely made my day.

I have been desperately looking for a recipe which could have (partially) reproduced such delicacy. The ingredients are simple, and easy to find (especially in Brussels, where the quality of the seafood is, I have to admit, absolutely excellent). It does not take too long, and the procedure is rather simple. Nonetheless.. There is something that might compromise the achievement of your perfect Irish seafood chowder. It has to be creamy. The broth where you have been stewing the vegetables and the fish, doesn’t have to be a broth anymore. Fish and veggies have to melt in your mouth, together with this dense, thick and savoury mixture that just tastes as a sunny, windy day on the Northen Irish coastline.

Ingredients and procedure (serving 4 people)

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  • 1kg mussels
  • 300 gr code (preferably fresh)
  • 400 gr salmon (preferably fresh)
  • 300 gr shrimps
  • 200 gr smoked bacon
  • 7-8 potatoes
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 leak
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • black pepper
  • 100 gr butter
  • 200 ml cream
  • 2.5 l of fish stock.

First of all, you prepare a hot, tasty broth of fish stock. In a large pot, you add 100 gr butter, the chopped leak, onion and garlic, and you gently cook for 5 minutes.

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You add the sliced bacon, keeping on stirring, then you add the bay leaves and a pinch of salt. Cut the potatoes into cubes 3cm larges, as well as the carrots, and add them in the pot. Keep on stirring for other 5 minutes, so that all the ingredients get flavoured.

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Now, start adding the broth, covering the mix of vegetables as you would do with a risotto. You wait that the liquid is almost absorbed by the vegetables (keeping a medium/low fire), then you repeat the procedure, pouring more broth when needed. When the potatoes are well cooked and soft (just being sure to leave some liquid to always cover the ingredients), you start adding the salmon pieces, the cod and only at the end the mussels and shrimps.

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Once the fish is cooked (you see it getting mashed a bit, but watch out not to overcook it!!), add the cream and softly turn the mixture. The cream, together with the stewed vegetables, should give that thicken shape to your chowder. Serve immediately, just checking salt and pepper taste. The top tip would be eating the chowder with some slices of typical Irish soda bread, and some salty butter.. But this, is another recipe, and another story ;)

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