Eventide Fish (and Scallop) Chowder
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 pound boneless skinless cod fillet, about 1-inch thick
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound sea scallops or use more cod, some hake or another firm fish
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium white or yellow onion diced into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 pound all-purpose potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- ¼ pound bacon sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (optional)
- 2 quarts fish stock or dashi Japanese fish broth, such as Hondashi bonito soup stock
- 1 to 2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Toasted nori sheets or seaweed snacks crumbled into very small pieces, or dried seaweed flakes (optional)
- Snipped chives or minced scallion greens for serving
- In a small pan over low heat, toast the peppercorns until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Coarsely grind and set aside.
- Trim cod of any pin bones or bits of skin and cut into 1-inch cubes. Lightly salt the cubes all over and set aside on paper towels to drain. Rinse scallops very lightly under cold water. Cut into half-moons and set aside on paper towels to drain. Keep seafood refrigerated until ready to use.
- In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is just sizzling, add onion and potatoes and cook, stirring, until the onions start to melt and the potatoes are gold at the edges, about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if using bacon, cook the strips in a hot skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
- Add stock, thyme and toasted peppercorns to pot and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. The potatoes should not be cooked through.
- Stir in cream and heat through over low heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
- Just before serving, with the chowder simmering over low heat, stir in seafood and simmer until potatoes are soft and seafood is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the bacon.
- Ladle the chowder into bowls. You want each serving to be around 2 parts broth to 1 part chunky goodness. Use your fingers to crush the nori into powdery bits, if using, and sprinkle over the top of each serving. Place about 1 teaspoon chives in the center of each bowl and serve immediately.
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