Smoked Fish Chowder

This is a hearty but healthy meal in a bowl which is almost nutritionally perfect. Use either smoked haddock or basa (aka River Cobbler) which is a reasonable price and keeps it shape well. I like to soak the fish in milk for twenty minutes or so to reduce the salt content; I then discard this soaking milk and use fresh milk for the poaching of the fish. The stock provides enough salt so do not add more. For a more luxurious dish you can add in an egg yolk and about 60 ml of cream at the end of cooking. Also beneficial is very little washing up.

Ingredients

500g skinned smoked haddock or basa fillet cut into largish chunks
500ml milk
50g butter
1 large onion finely chopped
20ml flour
300ml fish or vegetable stock (cube is fine)
2 large potatoes peeled and cut into large dice
150g baby corn cut into discs
150g frozen peas
Bayleaf
Ground pepper
Curry powder or garam masala or ras al hanout (or any spice you like)
Saffron
Fresh chopped parsley or coriander – half for cooking, half for garnish

Method

Soak the fish in 150 ml of the milk in a large bowl for twenty minutes to one hour. Discard this milk. Heat the remainder of the milk in a large pan and add the bayleaf and pepper, bring to a very low simmer and add the fish, turn the heat down so there is just the odd bubble and poach the fish for about five minutes or so until just cooked through. Return the fish and the cooking liquid to the bowl.

Melt the butter in the pan and cook the onion without browning for a few minutes. Add in the flour to make a roux base and cook for a minute or two. Gradually stir in the stock. Add the spices, herbs and potatoes. Bring to the boil and cook for another two minutes and then add in the poaching milk (and bayleaf) but not the fish. It should cook at a simmer to avoid the potato breaking up. You will have to stir occasionally to prevent the soup sticking to the pan. When the potato is almost cooked add the corn and peas and cook through. The corn should retain a bit of crunch to give a bit of variety to the texture.

Gently stir in the fish. You can turn the heat off at this stage and reheat later; otherwise just heat the fish through. Serve with chopped fresh coriander or parsley and some crusty bread. Delicious.