The secret to chowder perfection? Homemade fish stock (and bacon helps, too).
- fish head, gills removed (about 3/4 pound)
- 1 fish (about 5-6lb - Matty uses cod), bones only
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 1 leek, light green parts only, roughly chopped
- 1 rib celery, quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
For the chowder
- 300 g (10 oz) smoked slab bacon, diced (if you don’t eat bacon see Note)
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil, divided
- 1 leek stalk, light green only, finely chopped
- 1 medium white onion, finely diced
- 1 stick celery, finely diced
- 3 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
- 3 cups (750 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp heavy kosher salt
- 900 grams (2 lb) cod fillets, cut into 2.5cm (1½ inch) chunks
- 2½ cups (6 oz/160 g) Chinese cabbage (wombok / napa cabbage), torn into large leaves
- ¼ cup (15 g) finely sliced chives
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Make the fish stock: Place all the ingredients in a large stock pot and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Skim the scum from the surface and discard it as it rises. Simmer for 1 hour. Strain, discarding solids. You should have about 3 1/2 cups.
Make the chowder: Heat bacon, butter, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large dutch oven medium-high. Cook until bacon starts to brown and the fat becomes translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add in leek, onion, and celery. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Add the potatoes and fish stock. Bring to a quick boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the cream and salt and cook for 10 minutes more.
Gently drop in cod chunks and let cook through, about 5 minutes. Taste and add salt to taste, if desired. Stir in the napa cabbage leaves until they turn bright green and soften, about 2 minutes.
Spoon chowder into bowls. Garnish with chives and a drizzle of olive oil.
• If you don’t want to fillet the fish, ask your fishmonger to do it, but make sure they do it to order; don’t use frozen fillets or fillets sitting on display.
• If pescatarian, you can leave out the bacon.