It was bliss to spend long days swimming in the ocean, making drip sand castles, lying on towels reading books and listening to the surf washing up on shore. Often we would eat fresh fish or oysters for dinner since the beach cottage always had a kitchen.
Pancetta, which looks sort of like bacon
This soup is a dreamy sea-inspired chowder, perfect for chilly weather. You can always substitute other fish for the salmon, but make sure it is firm fish like cod or snapper or halibut. Frozen shrimp is readily available and sometimes you can also find scallops, calamari or other interesting substitutions.
If you are not using fresh oysters you will need to purchase some clam juice...about 6 - 8 oz should do it...to substitute for the oyster juices.
As for the veggies, I would keep the onions and celery, although you could use yellow or white onions instead of the red. Idaho or baking potatoes make the best mashed potatoes for the thickener.
Fresh corn and/or peas are always great. Red pepper would be a nice addition...about 1/4 cup...so you can see that this is a recipe that can be played with pretty extensively and you will come out with a yummy seafood chowder no matter what you choose. Just remember to heat things through and to cook the seafood over a low heat so that it stays tender.
1/8 lb pancetta, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup water
2 cups mashed potatoes (see below if you need a recipe)
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cooked, flaked salmon
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 lb baby shrimp
10 oz. (1 jar) fresh oysters including their juices
To the same pot, with the pancetta drippings, add the chopped red onion. Stir to coat with the fat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring often, until translucent. Add the celery, stir and cover the pot and cook for 2 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover the pot, add the lemon juice and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits. Add the water, stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the mashed potatoes, stir to combine. Mixture will be thick. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 3 hours to combine the flavors.
Place the saucepan with the mashed potato mixture over low heat and heat through, stirring often. Once mixture is hot add the flaked salmon, Italian parsley, peas, corn and baby shrimp. Stir to combine and continue to heat over low heat, stirring often, until everything is heated through.
While this is heating, recrisp the pancetta either on a paper towel in the microwave or by frying briefly in a small frying pan.
Once the chowder is heated through, add the oysters and their liquid. If the oysters are large, use a sharp knife to cut them into two or four pieces before stirring them into the chowder. Continue to heat the chowder for another 3 minutes or so until the oysters are just heated through.
5-6 large Idaho or baking potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and sliced, then put into a pot of cold water to cover
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper to taste
Note: I like chunky mashed potatoes and I love potato skins so I leave them on. For a more refined mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes before cutting and use a potato ricer once the potatoes are drained.
Put the pot of prepared potatoes over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 20-30 minutes or until tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.
Drain the cooked potatoes and return them to the pot. Off heat, mash them with a potato masher. They will still be somewhat chunky.
Meanwhile heat the milk to scalding. Add to the potatoes with the butter, salt and pepper and mash some more until the potatoes are the consistency you like. Serve at once while still hot.