For the love of chowder-A A +A
Friday, March 8, 2013
AS A chef, the chowder is definitely at the top of my comfort food list. Nothing like a good chowder to uplift one’s mood.
There is always a debate on which is better—the New England chowder or the Manhattan chowder. Well, the answer lies upon one’s tastes.
The chowder got its name from the French word chaudiere, a kettle in which fishermen made their stew. It is a thickened soup made of different kinds of seafoods and vegetables that contains starch like potatoes. Thickeners including flour and potatoes give chowders their texture as with the New England style.
Traditionally, chowder is cooked in which flour for thickening is cooked with aromatics (onion, celery, pork fat) rather than separately. For this reason more fat is necessary when cooking the aromatics. This is critical to successfully make the soup because the fat adds a smoky flavor to the dish.
There is also a group of chowders of which the Manhattan style may be the most widely known; that is more like a hearty broth and is very similar to the bouillabase and the cioppino. It is more of a tomato based soup rather than a cream soup.
Another variation is the Long Island style of chowder that is made part New England style and part Manhattan style, making it a creamy tomato clam chowder.
Chowders are traditionally served with saltine crackers. As the evolution of food continues, the chowder is now served in sour dough bread bowls as restaurants do in San Francisco. In Seattle and Portland, they use smoked salmon instead of smoked pork to render fat to their chowder. As for me, good old bacon fat will do.
Whatever variation people use to make chowders, the most important ingredient for me is passion and love. A good chowder made with love and passion will definitely warm the belly and the heart. As for me, I will continue to explore the world of chowder.
And maybe in the next decades more variations will come out. We will never know. Below
is a recipe (basic clam chowder recipe, about 10 portions).
Ingredients: olive oil, 0.120 Lt.; white onions, 0.070 kg; garlic, 0.015 kg; bacon, 0.100 kg; clams, 1.000 kg; white wine, 0.100 Lt.; fish stock, 1.000 Lt.; cream, 0.500 Lt.; cornstarch, 0.015 kg; butter, 0.050 kg; and salt and pepper to taste
Procedure: Sweat onions in olive oil. Add the garlic then the bacon; add the clams and saute for a while until they open.
Deglaze with white wine. When cooked, remove from the pan. Remove the shells, put back the clam meat in the same pan. Add the fish stock and simmer for two minutes. Add the cream and season to taste with salt and pepper. Thicken with cornstarch.
Before serving, add frozen butter nuggets to give a flavor and smooth velvety texture to the soup. (Katrina Charmaine Avila)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2013.