On our first visit to Newfoundland, there was no doubt in our minds about what we were going to eat at every meal - seafood! The waters of the North Atlantic ocean around Newfoundland are brimming with many varieties of seafood and local chefs are famous for the creative ways in which they use it in their cooking.
St. John's, the capital of Newfoundland is one of the oldest cities in North America and loaded with charisma and personality. You will develop quite an appetite once you walk up and down the steep, narrow streets, admiring the unique and colourful jellybean row houses lining them and exploring Signal Hill, where Marconi famously received the first transatlantic wireless signal. Cabot Tower atop Signal Hill with its breathtaking view is also worth exploring in this charming, historic town. Once you have admired the sights, walk along St. John's main street, where you can find many restaurants that serve some of the best chowder as well as a whole host of other seafood delights.
Fish is what first drew Europeans to Newfoundland. Basque, French and English fisherman would land on the shores of the remote island and spend all summer catching cod, then salting and drying it. Ships laden with salt cod would return home before the brutal winter swept in, making fish plentiful across the continent. Cooked in spices brought from India, salt cod became the mainstay of European cuisines. One of the favourite ways of cooking fish in medieval Europe was to simmer it in a stew. The cooking pot, known as a chaudière in French, gave its name to the stew, which became chowder in English.
My chowder recipe is fairly close to what we enjoyed so many times during our stay in Newfoundland. Use the freshest seafood you can find to get the best flavours out of this delicious chowder.
You can make this dish with any combination of seafood of your choice or even with just one main ingredient such as clams or lobster. A crusty bread on the side is a must!
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 each: sprig of thyme, bay leaf
1/2 cup each: carrots, celery, red pepper, mushrooms, peeled cooked potato, finely chopped
2 tbsp each: all purpose flour, white wine
4 cups whole milk
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup each: raw peeled shrimp, cooked shelled mussels, cooked shelled clams (optional)
10 raw scallops, halved through the center
1 each, raw: cod fillet, haddock fillet (about 1/2 lb each), cut into large pieces
2 tbsp each: chopped fresh dill, parsley, grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream
Warm oil or butter in deep saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, bacon, thyme and bay leaf. Saute for about 10 min until onions are softened, lightly browned and bacon has rendered its fat.
Add carrots, celery, red pepper, mushrooms and potato. Saute for 5 min until slightly softened. Add flour and cook 1 min. Add wine and cook 1 min until mixture bubbles. Stir in milk, salt and pepper. Cover pot, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 min or until vegetables are softened.
Add all the seafood, cover and cook 10 min until seafood is just cooked through, stirring gently once in a while.
Fold in the herbs, Parmesan and cream. Heat soup through gently, then serve.