Today may be a particularly odd day to post about a hot bowl of chowder given we apparently reached a very summer-like 37C. I say apparently because I was indoors for most of the afternoon and only really found out how hot it got today from Facebook status updates. Who says social media has no use?
I probably could have found a more seasonal recipe but making chowder ended up being the easiest way to use up a bag of New Zealand clams I bought last week. I did initially have grand plans similar to my recipe for Clam Marinière with Black Garlic that I made some years ago, but April’s so far been no less hectic than March so we’re keeping things simple where possible!
So who likes clams? I’m betting not a lot of people can readily say yes, mostly because it’s not something that appears on the average dinner plate in Australia. It’s a real shame as clams have a lovely intense flavour all of their own. Sadly I don’t see them rising in popularity too soon either. While it’s not hard to find them in seafood stores these days, they are not very cheap compared to a kilo of mussels. Locals clams are almost prohibitive and the New Zealand ones were $13 for a 500g bag (say, 18 clams).
Elsewhere in the world, clams are pretty common place and therefore much more affordable. Their many thousands of variants are enjoyed in everything from pasta (linguine alla vongole, anyone?) to extra flavoursome miso soups. In Japan, a popular and much loved manga character from the 70s, Asari-chan, is named after clams so I kinda have a soft spot for this mollusc. Then, in the United States of course, you have the oft-heard about clam chowder.
I’d love to make a traditional clam chowder but the amount of shellfish required would make the average bowl very pricy indeed. Therefore my chowder is a simple variation of the classic clam chowder and I’ve named it Chowder (with Clams). The basic chowder recipe can be used with other seafood and even shredded chicken (with chicken stock) if you prefer. Vegetarians can add a whole bunch of other veges and vegetable stock in lieu of stuff that once lived.
My chowder doesn’t give you a huge hit of clam flavour (oh to have a cup of chopped clams at my disposal) but it’s not a bad substitute. I might try making this again with tinned clams from USA Foods but otherwise if you’re on a budget and prefer the fresh stuff, give this a go :)
- 500g of clams (or one cup of other seafood, or shredded, cooked chicken)
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 corn on the cob (or ½ cup of frozen corn kernels), kernel slices off
- 2 medium sized potatoes chopped into small cubes
- 250g fish stock (or vegetable if preferred)
- 200g milk (hilo is fine)
- 50g cream
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- any retained juice from the clams
- ½ tsp salt
- pepper to taste
- Place onion pieces in TMX bowl and blitz on Speed 4 for a few seconds.
- Add olive oil and sautée on 100C, Speed 1 for 3 minutes.
- Add potato cubes and sautée on same setting for another 3 minutes.
- Add milk, stock and any clam juice to TMX and cook on 100C, Speed 1 (Soft) for 8 minutes.
- In the meantime, gently steam clams either by placing in the Thermomix steamer insert for five minutes while the chowder is cooking, or over the stove in a steamer pot. The clams just need to open up slightly so remove from heat once opened.
- Place clams into a soup bowl (6 pieces or so, per serving) and set aside.
- Check on chowder, and adjust seasoning to taste. Add cornflour and cream and cook for a further two minutes on same setting as before.
- Ladle chowder over the clams and serve.