Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. chef-owner Adam Geringer-Dunn insisted we wouldn’t make it through the cold season without his finely honed fish chowder recipe, and by golly he’s probably right. Looking for your first foray into using a whole fish (as in the whole fish)? Take it from the master at this Brooklyn-based seafood haven: Start here.
Fish chowder is a great way for us to utilize whole fish, minimize and reduce waste. We use fish bones to make the fish stock for the base of the chowder and then use fish trimmings (the pieces that are trimmed off those beautiful-looking filets in the display case). Lots of people only want to buy “center cut” filets of fish because they are the thickest and cook most evenly. That often leaves us with thinner tail pieces or other scraps, and we can still utilize those to make an incredibly rich and flavorful chowder. I really think dishes like fish chowder are the key to long-term seafood sustainability — a dish where you can really use the entire fish.
A trick we use to create a thick and full chowder without using any flour is to cook half of the Yukon Gold potatoes separately in cream. Once fully cooked, we then use an immersion blender (you could also use a regular blender) to puree the potato and cream mixture. We then add that back to the pot to give it that classic chowder texture and body while still being gluten free and without diluting the flavor.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 cups fish stock
- 2 pounds skinless, deboned white fish filets, cut into roughly 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 pounds fish trimmings, rinsed and roughly chopped/broken down into several smaller pieces (mild white fish will yield a much cleaner, clearer stock than oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, bluefish, etc.)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 2 medium carrots, roughly chopped
- 1 large rib celery, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch of parsley (stems and/or leaves)
- 1/4 medium lemon, quartered
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 10 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
For the fish stock
Heat a large 6- to 8-quart stockpot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Next add the onion, carrot, celery and parsley and let the vegetables sweat until they begin to soften. Add remaining ingredients and cover with 2 3/4 quarts of cold water.
Bring to a boil over medium heat; simmer gently for about 1 hour, periodically skimming away scum that rises to surface.
Carefully strain stock through double-thick cheesecloth set inside a fine mesh strainer, pressing out as much liquid as possible with the back of a spoon. Stock can be cooled and refrigerated for up to three days or frozen for up to three months.
For the chowder
Melt butter in Dutch oven (or heavy-bottomed pot) over medium heat. Add onions, half of the diced potatoes, 3/4 teaspoon salt. Wrap the thyme sprigs and bay leaf in cheesecloth and add to the pot. Stir occasionally, until onions are softened but not browned, about 3-5 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a simmer.
In a separate skillet, add reserved potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of cream, or enough to nearly cover potatoes. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are tender and beginning to break apart, about 20 minutes.
Using either an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend the potato and cream mixture until mostly smooth (or desired texture is achieved).
Add potato and cream mixture to the chowder in the Dutch oven and return to a simmer. Add fish pieces to chowder. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for five minutes. Remove cheesecloth with thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Stir gently with wooden spoon to break up and flake fish into smaller pieces.
Add any additional cream to achieve desired texture and color. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately (with oyster crackers, of course).