Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Coconut Cod Chowder


Every once in a long while, the blue moon variety, I will tackle an unfamiliar recipe that sounds like an interesting mix of unusual flavors and follow it – untypically – to the letter. Even if the recipe said an item was “optional” I was going to include it. No substitutions. No cheating. No shortcuts.

That’s exactly what I did with this Coconut Cod Chowder.

My sister gave me the recipe. “I just loved it,” she said.

And her bridge club loved it. Another sister and her husband loved it. Okay, that’s enough recommendations for me. I’ll try it. Lent is coming and I want new fish dishes.

After scanning the ingredient list, I had to check the pantry and the fridge for anything I might need. Turmeric? Check. Cardamom? Check. Coriander? Check. Coconut milk? Check. Cod? Check.

I needed to get leeks, fresh ginger, baby potatoes, a serrano chile pepper and oyster crackers. Although I did have some ginger in the freezer, I thought getting new ginger a better idea.

I have to admit, it was really, really good. What my sister didn’t tell me was that it tasted even better the next day. Now, you know.

What makes this thick soup so good is the mix of the spices with the coconut milk and the surprise spritz of citrus. It has enough zip, balanced by the creaminess of the milk.  I, too, loved it.

There are just a couple things I’d adjust the next time I make it. I will cut the potatoes into at least quarters and the fish into smaller pieces. And I think I would add just a little more heat, either with another chile pepper or hot pepper flakes. Maybe even another seafood. Clams? Shrimp?

I’m sharing this recipe, originally from Bon Appetit, just as my sister gave it to me. I have to admit, though, that I didn’t use ghee. The Bon Appetit experts allowed that good ol’ butter was just fine.

(Ghee is the foundation of Indian cooking. It is cow's butter that has been heated low and slow, then strained, to remove all the milk solids; essentially, it’s clarified butter.)

I hope you give it a try. It’s worth it. And don’t be tempted to delete the toasted oyster crackers or the lime. Both additions are perfect. If you try it, let me know.

Did Mr. Rosemary like it? He said so.  And the man doesn’t lie.


Coconut Cod Chowder

From Bon Appetit

Makes about 4 servings

1½ lb. skinless, boneless cod or halibut fillets

2½ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more

5 Tbsp. ghee or unsalted butter, divided

2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 (3") piece ginger, peeled, cut into matchsticks

¾ tsp. ground turmeric

¾ tsp. ground coriander

½ tsp. ground cardamom

1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

12 oz. baby Yukon Gold or red potatoes, halved

2 (13.5-oz.) cans unsweetened coconut milk

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced, plus leaves for serving (optional)

1½ cups oyster crackers

1 tsp. paprika

2 limes, divided

Season cod all over with 1½ tsp. salt; set aside. Heat 3 Tbsp. ghee in a medium Dutch oven over medium. Cook leeks, garlic, and ginger, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add turmeric, coriander, and cardamom and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chile, potatoes, coconut milk, 1 tsp. salt, and ¾ cup water; bring to a boil (still over medium). Immediately reduce heat so soup is at a bare simmer. Cover, leaving lid slightly askew, and cook until potatoes are barely fork-tender, 10–12 minutes.

Carefully nestle reserved fish into pot, spoon some broth over, and cover, leaving lid slightly askew. Cook at a bare simmer 4 minutes, then stir in celery. Cook until fish is opaque and flakes easily, about 5 minutes. Taste chowder and season with more salt if needed.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. ghee in a small skillet over medium-low. Add crackers and stir well to coat. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add paprika; toss to evenly coat.

Slice 1 lime in half and squeeze juice into chowder. Taste and season with more salt if needed. Ladle into bowls, breaking fish into large pieces. Scatter celery leaves over chowder if using and top with crackers. Slice remaining lime into wedges and serve alongside.

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