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A homely fish

Posted by Sheryl Julian  September 14, 2009 06:14 PM

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Haddock has no glam. I watched half a dozen people in front of me at the fish counter buying all kinds of beautiful species. No one was touching the haddock. I've wanted to make a haddock and corn chowder for weeks.

One small problem: I don't particularly like clam broth and I never have fish broth on hand. (Last winter I bought pounds and pounds of fish frames to make my own fumee, put much of it in the freezer, and then spent hours getting rid of fish smell in there. Even triple-wrapping does no good.)

At a friend's house earlier this summer, someone took all the lobster bodies off everyone's plate, simmered them in a big pot, and sent me home with the lobster broth -- and the pot! (I averted a potential disaster by wrapping the pot in several garbage bags.) So I had plenty of broth for the chowder. I defrosted it but it didn't have much flavor. I started reducing it while I browned the bacon for the chowder.

"The broth is too weak," my husband announced. "The chowder won't have any flavor."

Then: "Are you adding milk?" he asked. "That will dilute it even more."

But I kept at it. Took the kernels off the cobs. Cut the haddock into large hunks. Put him to work taking thyme leaves off the stems.

A big chopped onion went into the bacon fat, then the lobster broth and fish, then all the corn and thyme, and finally a cup of hot milk.

Wonderful meal! Nothing like great chowder, even made with a homely fish all the other customers pass up. Just so you know: I won over my critic. The bowls were full of flavor.

Fish and corn chowder
Serves 4

Use clam broth if you don't have homemade fish or lobster stock. To make lobster stock, simmer the bodies for 30 minutes in water to cover.

2 thick slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 1/2 cups clam broth
2 1/2 cups water
1 pound boneless haddock or other firm white fish, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed from cobs
1 cup milk, heated to hot
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1. In a large flameproof casserole, render the bacon, stirring often, until it is golden brown. With a spoon, lift out all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
2. Add the onion, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes.
3. Pour in the clam broth and water. Bring to a boil. Add the fish and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add the corn and bring to a boil (corn picked that day needs no more cooking). Add the hot milk and thyme. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Sheryl Julian

About Dishing

What's cooking in the world of food.


Sheryl Julian, the Globe's Food Editor, writes regularly for the Food section.

Devra First is the Globe's food reporter and restaurant critic. Her reviews appear weekly in the Food section.

Ellen Bhang reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe and writes about wine.

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