Monday, August 6, 2012

Chowder = Thai Curry... true story

So, this shows up on the boat...

So, they're not all keepers - some too small, some females,
and T's not there, so we can only keep 5.  "Only."

The problem with shell fish is you gotta eat it or freeze it pretty much RIGHT AWAY.  And if it freezes too slowly it tastes funny, and feels funny in your mouth because of the large ice crystals that form during slower freezing.

But - in a soup - it has half a chance.  The soup ingredients change the freezing dynamics, and some other secrets.

But back to my crazy claim - that building a chowder and a Thai Curry are the same process.

Let's start with the ingredients:

Thai Curry:                           Chowder:

coconut fat/oil                          bacon/salt pork/oil
curry paste                               salt & your preferred seasoning
garlic & aromatics                   onions, celery

vegetables                               vegetables
(eggplants, carrots, peppers    (corn, peppers, carrots)
pea pods, cucumbers)
starch - noodles/potatoes         starch - potatoes
creaminess - coconut milk       creaminess - milk/cream
liquid - broth                           liquid - broth
secret ing. - fish sauce             secret ing. - clam juice
protein gently cooked in         protein warmed/cooked in the 
the hot soup (chicken,             hot soup (shellfish or lobster/crab)
prawns or tofu)

In both you heat the fat, and cook up some pungent and aromatic ingredients.  Soften the vegetables, stir in the broth, cook the potatoes, and any other tender vegetables (OK the noodle gig is a bit different - but you get the picture...)
Add the creaminess and season with the secret ingredient.
Heat up or gently cook the protein of your choice.

Which all led me to completely go off the rails while making a corn and crab chowder for dinner - some to eat and some to freeze.  The stunningly delicious result?

Green Curry Corn & Crab Chowder

1/2 lb Bacon cut into thin strips
1/2 tsp green curry† (a little goes a long way)
1 large yellow onion, chopped (about 2 C)
2 ribs celery, chopped (about 1C)
1/2 C roasted piquillo peppers, chopped*
3/4 C flour (wheat or rice or 1 Tbs corn starch)
2Q (8C) chicken stock (that's 2 of the boxes)
1.5 lbs potatoes (waxy) cut to the size of your end thumb joint
3 ears of corn - cut off the kernels (see below)††
1 C half & half **
1/2 C fresh parsley - or a mix with cilantro - chopped
2 Tbs fish sauce (add more, carefully, to taste)
Per Person - approx. 1/2C - 1C picked dungeness crab meat

Chop everything to the right size.  That'll keep you out of trouble for awhile

Place a large soup pot over medium heat.  Cook the bacon until most of the fat is cooked out - and it starts to think about getting crispy.  About 10 min.
Add the curry paste and stir it into the rendered bacon fat.  As soon as you can smell it,
add the onions and celery and cook until they start to soften.  About 10 min.
Stir in the flour - cook for about 10 min - until the flour is nice and pasty over the veg.
Add about a cup of the chicken stock - stir to dissolve the flour.  Add in the rest of the the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Turn the heat down to medium, add in the potatoes, corn and roasted peppers.  Simmer for 10 minutes - check the potatoes.  If the are soft - onto the next step.  If not, keep simmering until the potatoes are fork tender.  When they get there,
Stir in the half & half and herbs.  Stir in the fish sauce and taste.  Add fish sauce a spoonful at a time, tasting as you go.   Stop when it is just right.
Simmer for the last 2 minutes.

Place the crab meat in the bottom of the bowls, and ladle over some soup.

Enjoy while laughing wickedly.

If there is extra soup - let it cool in the fridge, pop it in plastic snap top containers and freeze it ASAP.  Any extra crab goes in there too.

Thaw overnight in the fridge, heat over low heat, and serve with lime wedges to revive the flavors.

† Any green curry will do, but if you have a recipe/access to a particularly fresh, lemon grass heavy version - that will give results to brag to your friends about.  You CAN add more, but you don't won't to overwhelm the flavor of the crab.

*Point of substitution to your taste/materials: use regular roasted red peppers, or the amount you want of something spicier or 1C chopped raw red peppers.

† Put a small plate in a large bowl.  Stand the shucked corn cob on the flat end on the plate.  Hold the pointy end.  Use your chefs knife to cut down the cob and cut off the kernels.  No need to go too close the the cob.
Turn the knife so the blunt side is facing the cob, and run it down the side, getting all the yummy, sweet corn juice out.
Use the whole soupy mess in your chowder.

** Another easy substitution - you can go 1C milk and 1C cream if you happen to have that instead.  Or if you don't do dairy, take it a little more over to Thai Curry with 1 can of coconut milk instead.

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