Bjorn Tesch Photo
Get inspired to cook more fish, like this shellfish chowder with bacon and corn, by a pair of rockin’ Swedish chefs. The photo and recipe are from “Seafood: Spectacular Recipes for Every Season” by Par-Anders Bergqvist and Anders Engvall.
A good cookbook is like a perfect record album: “cool cover shots, nice lyrics, the perfect length and no fillers.” At least that’s the wisdom of Swedish chefs Par-Anders Bergqvist and Anders Engvall in “Seafood: Spectacular Recipes for Every Season.” It comes complete with listening recommendations: Primal Scream’s “Give Out But Don’t Give Up” for the Crayfish Gratin, White Stripes’ “Elephant” for the flounder. It’s playful, inventive and inspiring — and you can dance to it.
At first glance, the book might intimidate. Vibrantly colored fish concoctions are photographed against dramatic seascapes that introduce each of the 52 recipes. Some of the ingredients — such as whitefish roe, cusk, “witch” flounder, Vasterbotten cheese — are either unknown to the average American home cook or hard to come by; the chefs offer almost no suggestions for substitutes. And when it comes time to assemble each dish, you’re on your own.
But a deeper acquaintance with this book will have you looking to it for inspiration, if not exact recipe instructions. Can’t find the crayfish tails that are called for in Broiled Walleye With Warm Tomato Salad? Make the salad (tomatoes, dill, lemon and horseradish) and serve it with your favorite grilled fish. The “pebre” (a spicy cilantro garnish) included in a recipe for scallops would complement many other fish dishes and would make chicken or pork sparkle. The method for lightly brining and frying cod is terrific — even if you don’t make the pumpkin puree that the recipe calls for.
The book is like an album: Pick your favorite tracks.
The chowder recipe here looks long but is really simple and delicious. Suggested listening: the New York Dolls’ “Rock ’n’ Roll” album. Boogie on!
Shellfish Chowder With Roasted Corn
Yield: about 4 servings
For the shellfish:
2¼ pounds mussels or clams
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ shallot, peeled and chopped
1¾ cups dry white wine
For the corn:
1 large ear fresh corn on the cob OR 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
For the chowder:
½ cup diced thick-cut bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1¾ cups cooking liquid from the shellfish preparation
1½ cups cream
¾ cup milk
½ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh green herbs, such as parsley, chives or basil, for serving (optional)
For the shellfish: Lightly scrub the shellfish under cold running water. Discard any that are broken or that will not remain firmly closed when tapped. Heat the oil and add the chopped shallot. Add the shellfish and wine and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until all shellfish are open. Remove shellfish from the broth and save the broth. Discard any shellfish that have not opened. Remove the “meat” from the shells and discard the shells.
For the corn: If using fresh corn, remove the husks and corn silk from the cob. Slice the fat end of the cob and stand it upright in a shallow bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels off. Mix the corn (fresh or frozen and thawed) with the oil. Heat a small skillet and fry the corn until golden brown. Season to taste.
For the chowder: Line a plate with paper towels and set aside. Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on the prepared plate to drain. You can use the bacon grease; you want about a tablespoon. Add oil to make that quantity if needed. Or, if you don’t like bacon grease, wipe it from the skillet; add a tablespoon of oil and heat.
Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add half the potatoes and toss to coat in the fat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the shellfish stock, cream and milk; cook for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender and work in batches. Return to the pot.)
Add the water and bring to a simmer. Add remaining potatoes and simmer until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the bacon and the shellfish meat and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into warm soup bowls and garnish with herbs if desired.
(Recipe from “Seafood: Spectacular Recipes for Every Season” by Par-Anders Bergqvist and Anders Engvall; Skyhorse Publishing, 2013)
Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.c
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