Acadian Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder
When you think of Holiday food, your mind probably goes to turkey or ham. Here in Nova Scotia—where Seafood is abundant—we have another Holiday staple: Seafood Chowder.
Like many families in the Province, it's a tradition to gather with friends and family on Christmas Eve for a kitchen party with music, food, drinks and the star of the night - a big, steaming pot of Seafood Chowder.
Here in 2020, the whole ‘gathering’ tradition may look a little different because of COVID-19. Since we all have to do our part, I will take one for the team and eat an entire pot of chowder to myself, hehe!
This specific recipe can only be found in the homes of Acadian villages here in the South-West part of Nova Scotia. The signature orange colour is something every Acadian chowder maker strives for. If you achieve it, you get major props from the elders.
The colour, surprisingly, does not come from a tomato product; it comes from the lobster, lobster tomalley, and the specific method in which it is prepared. Like most Acadian recipes, the ingredients are kept simple, using only ingredients available locally from the land and sea.
The best part about this recipe? It's even better the next day! You can do all the work ahead of time and simply heat it up when you're ready to celebrate and enjoy your company...or a big bowl of it solo in front of the fire!
Gather the below ingredients:
- 8 cups potatoes, peeled & cubed
- 4 cups water, salted
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup butter
- 1/2 cup onion, puréed
- 1/4 cup white wine
- 1 lbs scallops
- 2 lbs lobster, chopped
- 2 lbs haddock
- 1 tbs vinegar
- 2 - 3 cups cream (18% - 35%, depending on how thick you want it; I do a mixture of both)
- l (2.5 oz) can lobster paste
- Kosher salt, sea salt (I season every step with kosher salt since it is a more mild salt then add sea salt at the end to taste)
- Peel and cube potatoes.
- In a large pot, top potatoes with 4 cups of salted water and bring to a boil. Simmer potatoes until they become just fork tender (about 12-15 minutes).
- Grate or puree a medium sized onion (I use a food processor), it should amount to 1/2 cup.
- In a large frying pan, add about 1 tbs of olive oil and butter (each) on medium heat. Add your pureed onion, season with kosher salt and pepper and stir frequently. You want the water to evaporate and the onions to cook evenly without browning too much.
- Once the onions start to have a strong aroma and are lightly browned, add wine to deglaze the pan (this picks up all the yummy brown bits from the pan and adds flavour). Once the wine has reduced, add the mixture to the pot with the potatoes.
- Wipe frying pan down with a paper towel and turn heat to medium-high heat. Season both sides of your scallops with kosher salt and pepper. Once your frying pan is super hot, get a nice quick sear on the scallops (I use canola oil and butter). Do not fully cook the scallops since they will be added to the chowder at the end. Remove scallops and set aside on a plate.
- Wipe frying pan with paper towel. Sautée lobster in 1/4 cup of butter. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Add vinegar (this will help thicken your sauce). Add cream and cook until cream is nice and thick.
- When potatoes are cooked, add haddock to pot and cook until the fish starts to flake.
- Add scallops and creamed lobster mixture to pot.
- Melt 1/4 cup of butter to frying pan and sautée lobster paste (tomalley). This helps give the chowder that signature orange colour. Add to pot.
- Season to taste. Add more cream if desired.
- Stir gently and enjoy right away...or reheat later!
From my home to yours, have a very Happy Christmas, love Alyssa.
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Words & photos: Alyssa LeBlanc