To the uninitiated, chowder appears a slow-cooked mystery shrouded in cream. But the decadent seafood soups are quick and easy enough to make anytime. This recipe, from Rowena Rillo, regional chef for Pacific Catch, is a modified version of the salmon chowder offered at the sustainable seafood restaurant’s 10 Bay Area locations.
The base is simple: Bacon, cooked-down aromatics, like celery, garlic and onion, plus store-bought clam base mixed with water and cream and simmered for 20 minutes. The salmon comes at the end, grilled and served on top with finishing touches like crispy shallots and lemon olive oil.
Pacific Catch’s Salmon Chowder
For each bowl
2 ounces salmon
2 slices ciabatta or sourdough
2 cups clam chowder base (see recipe below)
Drizzle of lemon olive oil, garnish
Sliced green onions, garnish
Crispy shallots, garnish
Lemon wedge, garnish
Grill the salmon and sliced bread. Ladle 2 cups of hot clam chowder base into a bowl, place the pieces of grilled salmon atop and garnish the bowl with a drizzle of lemon olive oil, green onions and crispy shallots. Serve immediately with grilled bread and a lemon wedge.
Pacific Catch’s Chowder Base
Makes about 10 cups
½ pound uncooked ground bacon
½ tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup diced celery
1 cup diced yellow onions
3 tablespoons clam base, like Better Than Bouillon
2 cups heavy cream
6 cups water
Salt as needed
¼ pound (1 stick) butter
¼ pound flour
To make the clam chowder base, cook the ground bacon in a big pot until the bacon is cooked and the fat is rendered. Strain the bacon out and reserve. Use half the bacon fat to sauté the vegetables, starting with the garlic, cooking until slightly toasted, then adding the onions and celery. Cook until translucent.
Add clam base and cooked bacon bits and stir to incorporate. Add cream and water, bring to a simmer and let mixture simmer for about 20 minutes.
In a separate small pot, melt butter gently, add flour and whisk together on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the roux mixture turns light brown (blonde roux) and no lumps are visible.
Add the roux in increments to the clam chowder base, consistently whisking. You will notice the consistency get thicker. Add roux until you reach the consistency you desire. Taste the clam chowder base and add salt as needed.
— Rowena Rilla, Regional Chef, Pacific Catch
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