Every time I visit Vancouver I am dumb struck. How can this beautiful place be only an hour away from Calgary, the world’s bleakest spot in winter?? Why do I not live here?? Vancouver is positively stunning in fall; the leaves are all manner of red, orange and green. Green grass, green hedges, lots of green that I know endures all winter long. So, to all those people that say its too rainy and too gray in Vancouver, you have it all wrong!!
Green also defines the Vancouver food scene. Sustainable fishing, organic farming, freshness, vibrancy. These are adjectives commonly seen both eating out and cooking in . And they particularly describe my favorite place to shop for groceries or prepared items: Granville Island Market. There is something about this bustling wharfside market that is intoxicating, to say nothing of the exceptional produce, meat, seafood and baked goods available. Every meal I prepare here in Vancouver is 100% better, due entirely to the freshness of the ingredients.
Thursday we hosted our good friend Kelli for dinner so I prepared a fresh seafood corn chowder, served with a loaf of grainy bread (the three of us ate the whole damn thing) and a tossed salad with fresh dates, bacon and pecans. It was awesome but I warn potential chowderheads against adding fresh clams directly into the soup for cooking. The little suckers spewed about a teaspoon of sand into the bottom of the pot I steamed them in, so I was relieved that I hadn’t popped them directly into the chowder to cook. Duane actually had a pearl in one of his – it must have thought it was an oyster!
Here’s the recipe:
Seafood Corn Chowder
- 4 slices of bacon, chopped into small pieces
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped
- 4-5 cups of chicken broth
- 500ml Half and Half cream
- 2 ears of corn (of 1 can of niblets if you can’t find fresh)
- 3 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into 1″ cubes (do not peel)
- 300 gm filet of firm white fish, cut in 2″ cubes (I used ling cod -lovely- but halibut would be great too)
- 12 large raw shrimp, cleaned and tail off
- 4 large scallops, cut in half
- 8 fresh clams, scrubbed well (discard any that don’t close tight)
- Fresh basil, sliced into threads
- Salt and pepper
In large pot, sautée bacon until crisp. Drain well and set aside. In same pot, lightly sautée shallots until translucent, about 3 minutes. Do not brown. Add garlic and celery and sautée another minute. Add chicken stock and simmer 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Cut kernels from corn cobs. In food processor or chopper, process 1/2 cup of the corn with 1/2 cup Half and Half cream. This mixture serves to thicken the soup. Add to the pot and stir well and bring to a simmer. Add the balance of the corn, the potatoes and the rest of the Half and Half. Simmer lightly until the potatoes are tender crisp. You don’t want to overcook at this point or your spuds will be mush.
Now you will prepare the fish/shellfish to add to the soup. In heated frypan, melt a tbsp of butter and sautée the fish cubes for 1 minute each side. They will be not quite cooked. Set aside on plate. Add scallops and shrimp to the frypan and sautée similarly for 1 minute each side. Add to plate.
In a small saucepan, bring 1″ of water to a boil. Add the clams and steam with lid on for about 2 minutes until the shells open. Rinse the clams under warm water to remove any sand.
Add the fish, shrimp and scallops to the soup and gently stir to combine. You don’t want the fish to break up into small bits so be careful. Add a generous grinding of pepper. Simmer 2-3 minutes until everything is heated through.
Ladle into soup bowls and set a couple of clam shells on top of each bowl.
Garnish with basil threads and enjoy!