Souper Sunday: Smoked Fish Chowder

The other day 7.5yo J made dinner and chose to make barbecued ribs.  Well, this necessitated pulling out the smoker (actually we keep it out all winter on our covered back porch because you never know when you need to smoke some meat!) for the ribs.  And since the hubby was going to be heating up the smoker, he couldn’t waste all that smoker space with just one rack of ribs.  Therefore, he came home on Friday with 3 pounds of fish too.  2 pounds of pollock that was locally caught and inexpensive, as well as some salmon.  The salmon, he smoked for bagels and lox.  The pollock, he smoked for fish cakes, and we decided to make soup with the leftovers.

We have a Weber smoker, and to be honest, I’ve never used it.  But, here is the recipe that Hubby wrote out for the fish.

Smoked Whitefish

Generously sprinkle rub on fish (we used pollock).  Rub it in to cover the fish, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for two hours.  Rinse off the rub, pat fish dry, and let sit open to the air in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  This should create a tacky film on top of the fish.  Smoke the fish at 225 degrees for 90 minutes, looking for an internal temperature of 165F.  If it’s not done after 90 minutes, you can bake it in your oven for an additional 10 minutes at 350F.

FISH RUB:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup kosher salt
1 Tbsp. dried dill
1 tsp. fresh black pepper

We smoked 2 pounds of fish, and there was plenty of rub leftover.  It will probably make about 4-5 pounds of smoked fish.

Hubby used most of the fish to make fish cakes.  I took one fillet and made this super-yummy fish chowder.  Nothing fancy in the ingredient list (except the smoked fish, I suppose), I had all of it in my cupboard.

Smoked Fish Chowder

I started with a recipe that I got off Allrecipes for a Smoked Salmon Chowder.  Did a bit of tweaking to it although not too much.  I didn’t have any of the half-and-half called for in the original recipe.  So, I did a bit of Google research, and decided to use 2% evaporated milk that was already in my cupboard.  It was perfect for the soup!  And much less fat.  I think I’m going to only use evaporated milk from now on.  Not sure how I’ve gone on this long without knowing about this little substitution tidbit.

2 Tb. butter
1 Tb. olive oil
1 onion, diced medium-fine
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 pound red potatoes, diced medium (about 3/4 inch dice)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. paprika
(1/2 tsp. dill and 1/2 tsp. tarragon – Optional *Note)
8-10 oz. smoked fish, cut into chunks
1/4 cup white wine
1 Tb. fresh lemon juice (about half a lemon)
A few dashes of Tabasco
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup evaporated milk (I used 2%)

*Note – I used the herbs stated in the original recipe, which included the dill and tarragon.  Next time, I would omit them because they were a bit too strong for the  pollock in our opinion.  Play around with it!

1. Heat Dutch oven/soup pot, melt butter and oil.  Throw in onions, garlic and celery, and cook on medium-low until transparent, about 10 minutes.

2. Add flour, and stir for about 1 minute to toast the flour.

Dry roux

3. Gradually add the chicken broth, and stir until slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in thyme and paprika (and other herbs you may choose to use), throw in the potatoes, cover and simmer for 15 minutes on medium-low.

4. Stir in the fish, lemon juice, white wine, Tabasco and pepper.  (Pour a glass of white wine for yourself.)  I scraped away that brown part of the fish because I find that it’s pretty “fishy” tasting.  Use your judgment.  Simmer on Low, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.

5. Stir in the evaporated milk, and continue to simmer on Low for 30 minutes.

It was so, so good.  And awesome the next day, of course.  I’m sad that it’s gone to be honest.  As an aside, I need to work on my food photography skills.  Especially when taking photos at the stove.  The lighting is terrible!  Anyway, there has been lots of cooking being done on this crafty blog, but not so much craftiness.  Don’t worry!  I have been extremely crafty recently, I just can’t share it because I’m participating in a swap with the ladies who were my roomies at the Squam Art Workshop last year.  It is going out in the mail very soon, and I’ll be sharing some of the fun things in the package in the next few weeks.

I want to add that I made this soup a second time yesterday with some of the leftover smoked salmon.  We didn’t have all the ingredients, so I had to do a few substitutions.  I didn’t have any chicken broth and used all vegetable broth.  And I used a mixture of evaporated milk and regular 1% milk.  It was just not as good at all.  Very disappointing.  What I took away from the experience was that you need to use chicken broth.  I think the vegetable broth made it thin tasting.  Also, I didn’t care for the salmon and preferred the whitefish.   That might just be a personal preference of course, as I know a lot of people love salmon.  While using a bit of regular milk mixed with the evaporated milk made it a little less creamy, it wasn’t a big deal.  I’m enjoying everything I’m learning from these cooking-soup adventures!

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One Response

  1. I think we can easily smoke up several fillets of fish, and then freeze them, so we can make this chowder any day. As it is going into soup, the change in texture with the freezing would not be a big dea. I would also be curious to try it with canned smoked salmon.

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