Who used oysters and clams by the bucket
Until one day the market ran dry
So the chef asked, “Why not give lobsters a try?”
To those who think chowder means clams, I say…”
The rest has been lost, but you might speculate. Point is, summer often includes a trip to the beach, and shore life isn’t complete without chowder. Particularly not when the mixture is as tempting as is the Seafood Chowder Bon Appetit described in its May 2020 issue.
Though a genuine Martha’s Vineyard seaside shack inspired the soup, it isn’t like other New England chowders…err, chowdahs. For one thing, this version is lighter, and it eats more like a soup than a stew. Sure, a pour of half-and-half adds creaminess, but the soup is anything but heavy. As refreshing as is a sea breeze, in fact.
Another improvement lurks within, as a medley of clean-tasting dockside favorites replaces the traditional clams. Here you’ll encounter shrimp, sea bass and scallops. Oh, and best of all, lobster! These lobsters specifically:
At this point, the recipe calls for oyster crackers to accompany, but wouldn’t something else be even better? How about that classic seafood staple, hush puppies? Okay. Would Corn & Lobster Hush Puppies work? Oh, splendidly!
These are an invention of Tom Berry, who was Executive Chef of the Great Harbor Yacht Club on Nantucket (ah, the chef in the limerick!) before opening his own restaurant in Boston. Berry posted his creation on the how2heroes website. From there, to here.
These hush puppies are loaded with scallions, fresh corn and – oh yes! – lobster. Here’s the dough just before it became golden-brown and delicious:
As if this culinary moment couldn’t be any better, Berry pairs the hush puppies with his Chipotle-Honey Aioli, pictured in the bowl just below the basket. The aioli is best when all the flavors mingle in the fridge. What emerges is creamy and chilled, a perfect foil to the puppies’ warm chewiness. Best of all, those tastes! The honey’s sweetness, the mustard’s zing and the garlic’s bite all build to the chipotle‘s subtly smoky heat. So, what rating does something get when two “10”s marry?
Anyway, thank goodness that chef on Nantucket decided to give lobster a go. The ingredient is pricey, but it’s a special treat and is so worth every penny. After all, it makes every bite a trip to the beach. Vacation in a bowl. And, after trying this soup, you’ll be the last one to say chowder needs clams.
Once again, Spoonflower artisans delivered, and the work commissioned lines the basket holding the Lobster Hush Puppies. The fabric is titled “Lobsters – Watercolor & Ink Nautical Summer,” and the creator is Jessica Prout.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (*1)
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (*2)
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon sherry
- 2-and-1/2 cups clam juice, divided
- 2 cups fish or seafood stock (*3)
- 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1-and-1/4 pounds mixed fish and shellfish, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (*4)
- 8 ounces cooked lobster meat, cubed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- salt, to taste
- oyster crackers, for serving (*5)
In a stockpot set over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. Add the onion and the celery and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Mix in Old Bay and 1 teaspoon of the pepper; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the sherry and cook, stirring occasionally, until the alcohol has cooked off, about a minute.
Add 1/2 cup of the clam juice and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft. about 5 minutes. Add the stock and the remaining two cups of clam juice and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, about five minutes.
While the potatoes simmer, melt in a small saucepan set over medium heat the remaining tablespoon of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until light blond in color, about a minute. Whisk in the half-and-half and one cup of the chowder broth, skimmed from the top. Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly. Maintain a low simmer until ready to use, whisking occasionally.
Meanwhile, add the fish and the shellfish to the stockpot and cook, stirring gently, until the mixture returns to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the lobster meat, if using.
Stir in the half-and-half mixture and return to medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring gently. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and ladle into individual bowls.
1 – The sun glinting off the surf must’ve been in my eyes, because I could’ve sworn I read “2 medium shallots.”
2 – Old Bay, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Good to see you, buddy!
3 – Not that it makes an ocean of difference, but I used shrimp stock I prepared and froze over the winter. One of these days, I’m going to dedicate an entire article to what a stockpot yields. Don’t worry, it’ll come at a time when stock steaming away on the stovetop is a comfort.
4 – As mentioned, I chose shrimp, scallops, sea bass, and lobster. Swordfish and, yes, clams are two other possible options.
5 – Oyster crackers are nice, if a bit bland. Try the hush puppies, recipe below, and you’ll be glad you did.
Corn & Lobster Hush Puppies
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup thinly-sliced scallion greens
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup lobster meat, diced small
- canola oil, for frying
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl mix the cornmeal, flour, baking soda and baking powder.
In a separate and slightly larger bowl mix the buttermilk, egg and melted butter. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to overmix.
Gently fold in the scallions, corn and lobster, and season with salt and pepper. Let the batter (*6) sit for 20 minutes before frying.
Pour the canola oil to depth of 3 inches in a large pot. Set over a medium flame and heat to 350°. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and cook until golden-brown about 3 minutes. (*7) Drain on paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Serve immediately with Chipotle-Honey Aioli, recipe below.
6 – The recipe calls the mixture a “batter,” but it’s more accurate to label it “dough.” See the picture in the text above for illustration. Think about it; if this were viscous like a batter, there’s no way you could shape it into hush puppies before dropping them into the oil.
7 – Don’t crowd the hush puppies or they’ll cluster together and will stick, and they certainly won’t cook properly. Four or five hush puppies at a time is ideal. Be patient; you’ll get there!
- 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (*8)
- 1 cup canola oil
- salt and freshly-ground pepper, to taste
Add the chipotle, honey, Dijon, egg yolks, garlic and lemon juice to the bowl of a small food processor. Purée until smooth, making sure to scrape the sides with a rubber spatula.
With the machine running, slowly drizzle in the canola oil, forming an emulsion.
Season well with the salt and pepper. The aioli is ready to serve, though it will improve if it sits in the refrigerator for a few hours.
8 – This works out to a little less than half a lemon.