Spicy sustainable chowder
Photo by Tamara West
What makes a chowder sustainable? Choosing seafood from near the top of the Forest and Bird “Best Fish Guide”, in this case mussels and trevally. Both are tasty, cheap and easy to overlook. Mussels must be the best value seafood of all — at around $3 a kilo they’re a real treasure. Lots of the flavour in this chowder comes from the juice they give off as they steam open — it’s salty, rich and delicious, so make sure you don’t tip it out! Chowders are often thickened with flour and way too full of dairy for my liking. I’ve gone a different direction here, using potato and coconut milk instead. Red curry paste is a natural fit with coconut and gives loads of flavour plus a nice touch of spice. Visually, the colours of the potato and carrot echo the two-tone mussels (females are red and males are white). Any fresh fish will work well here, so you can feel good about choosing less common and more sustainable varieties including kahawai and mullet.
|2 medium||Potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces|
|2||Carrots, cut into bite-sized pieces|
|1 cup||Corn kernels, frozen is fine|
|1 Tbsp||Canola oil|
|1||Onion, finely chopped|
|4 cloves||Garlic, finely chopped|
|4 Tbsp||Red curry paste|
|1 cup||Coconut milk|
|200 g||Trevally, kahawai, cut fillets into chunks|
|1 handful||Coriander, to serve|
|1||Lime, or 2, cut into wedges to serve|
- To steam the mussels open, put 1½ cups boiling water into a pot on high heat and add the mussels. Once opened (after about 5 minutes), remove from heat and strain liquid into a jug. Shell mussels, removing beards as you go, then chop into quarters and set aside.
- Cook potatoes, carrots and corn in a pot with saved mussel liquid, simmering for 30 minutes until soft.
- Add canola oil to a pan on medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add red curry paste and cook 5 more minutes, stirring regularly. Add coconut milk and bring to a boil.
- Add contents of pan to pot. Mash gently to thicken but allow some potato and carrot chunks to remain for texture.
- Add fish to pot, submerging in liquid. Simmer for 5 minutes until just cooked then serve in bowls with a topping of coriander and a splash of lime juice.