Swimming upstream

Everyone gets busy at this time of year and when you work in the service industry, all the more so. I was making a load of crab cakes at work today so the shop would have a good supply to get through the Christmas rush while I go to visit my brother for a week. I make them as a quick takeaway frozen item for people to have an easy meal for later.

While making them, customers invariably have cooking questions and the open concept of the kitchen where I work facilitates customers asking me anything from preparation, recipe ideas or basic health/food metabolism questions (because of my biochemistry background). Today, a customer talked about how she had a chowder at a Christmas party last year and wanted to make it for someone. I prepare takeaway chowder for the shop as well, but I always want to encourage others to make it for themselves, so I shared my recipe I do for the shop for Creamy Seafood Chowder. I told her she could personalize the seafood mix to her liking and it’s easy to make ahead to prevent swimming upstream too vigorously this season.

Creamy Seafood Chowder

For the chowder base:

2 tsp Mighty Trio Organics cold pressed canola oil

3 cups chopped Riverbend Gardens yellow onion

2 tsp salt

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and salt and sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften. As the onions begin to brown, reduce the heat to medium and continue to sauté, caramelizing the onions. This may take upwards of 20-25 minutes. If the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pot, add a few tablespoons of water, scrape the bottom of the pan and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes to ensure the added water is evaporated and emulsified into the caramelized onion.

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped fennel bulb

450g/1lb butter

2 cups sifted Gold Forest Grains soft white wheat flour (reserve the bran for another use such as muffins or homemade granola)

3L(just over 3 quarts) 1% milk (or 2L/2qt milk + 1L/1qt cream)

As the onions have caramelized, add the celery and fennel bulb, increase the heat back up to medium high and sauté for a further 7-10 minutes, or until they are softened.

Add the butter, and when melted, gradually stir in the sifted flour until it is smooth and free of lumps. Slowly whisk in the milk a cup or two at a time, stirring, and as it heats, it thickens. When all of the milk has been added, simmer on medium for another 8-10 minutes. If using cream, add it after the milk has simmered a bit.

For the seafood mix:

450g/1 lb halibut

450g/1 lb salmon (any variety of salmon is good, sockeye has the strongest flavour, but Spring/Chinook salmon is the richest in omega-3 oils with a milder flavour, so it’s up to personal preference)

450g/1 lb wild Mexican shrimp or Matane (Québec) shrimp

225g(1/2lb) smoked haddock or other smoked white fish

Chop all of the fish and seafood into 2cm/1″ bite-sized pieces and combine in a medium bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the chowder:

Heat the chowder base up to a simmer, add the seafood mix and simmer for a further 4-5 minutes to cook the seafood through.

If you are only doing a small amount, the chowder base and uncooked seafood mix can be combined, when cool, and cooked in batches as you need it. Serves 6-8 people.

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