Thursday, November 5, 2009

Chunky Manhattan Chowder

I had stock, some mahi mahi, a few shrimp and one crab leg left over after making the Crab and Potato Chowder featured in yesterday's post.

Because that chowder had a potato and leek base, it was easy to add to the leftovers to make Manhattan chowder.

Manhattan chowder originated probably with Portuguese immigrants in the NE of the U.S. adding tomatoes to chowder rather than milk or cream.

If you've been to Portugal you may have had their traditional tomato-based fish stews, which are more rustic but just as delicious as French Bouillabaisse, and very like a Manhattan chowder only choc-full of seafood.

I had one of these fish stews in a Portuguese sea-side town that has since become a very popular holiday-destination.

Albufeira's main beach is a great long stretch of sand. At one end a sheer cliff rises up from the beach and atop that cliff there was (it's probably not there anymore) a small restaurant with plastic tables and chairs, some of which were outside abutting a thigh-high stone wall at the edge of the cliff.

I, and my partner at the time, sat outside at a table by the stone wall and admired the spectacular view straight down to the beach and across the darkening ocean to Africa invisible on the horizon.

My stew, when it arrived, was rich with tomato and fish-broth flavor. It was filled with chewy crustaceans including spiny langoustine or scampi still in their shell. Found in the waters south of Portugal, langoustine is the feature crustacean in Portuguese fish-stews.

I attempted to recreate the rich flavor of the Albufeira fish stew in today's Chunky Manhattan Chowder (pic left).

Obviously I didn't have langoustine, but as I mention above, I did have leftover chicken stock, one King Crab leg, and combined with mahi mahi, white raw shrimp (pic above) and a can of peeled tomatoes, a chunk of parsley and a bay leaf, I have to say, the flavor was pretty darn good.

And so here is the method for ...

Chunky Manhattan Chowder
1) Pick a selection of fish and or shellfish to suit your budget and palate. For example, WFs has raw shrimp on sale at the moment (pic at top), and they have a great selection of Whole Catch frozen fillets like mahi mahi, sole, Alaskan salmon.
2) Remove shell from shellfish then chop fish /seafood into chunks.
3) Smash and then chop a clove or two or garlic; add to a skillet lined with olive oil. Turn heat to low and allow garlic to infuse the warming oil.
4) Turn heat up, but don't allow garlic to brown or burn, now toss in seafood and gently stir for about 5 mins or until all the fish has sealed.

5) If you have an open bottle of white wine, add half a cup and allow alcohol to evaporate before pouring in enough chicken stock (or leftover crab & potato chowder) to cover seafood.
6) Open a tin of peeled tomatoes (either chopped or whole), and pour that in too. Add a chunk of parsley, and a bay leaf.
7) Turn heat to low and simmer for about 30 mins. Don't boil or the seafood will disintegrate into dry and chewy little pieces.
8) Before serving, pick out pieces of parsley and bay leaf, then taste-test, adding salt and ground black pepper to suit.

To Serve:
Ladle into bowls and serve with chunks of warm crusty bread and a little green on top, i.e. a piece of parsley.

You might like drizzled, extra-virgin olive oil over the chowder. I added a squeeze of lemon juice to my chowder; it really enhanced the flavor. So a side-plate with lemon pieces would be a great addition too.

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