There Once Was a Chef on Nantucket…


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.

*****

Seafood Chowder

  • 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.

NOTES:

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.

NOTES:

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!

*****

 Chipotle-Honey Aioli 

  • 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.

NOTES:

8 – This works out to a little less than half a lemon.

42 thoughts on “There Once Was a Chef on Nantucket…

  1. Another post bathed in magnificent creativity. This recipe reminds me of the clam chowder in which I use to partake at a restaurant (when I was 19 and frivolous), called… had it on the tip of my tongue but having trouble recalling name. Oh… Oh… I remember! The Odyssey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tamara!

      A memorable experience, to be sure. That’s the point, isn’t it? You bought much more than just the fancy food, you purchased the memories too. You had the chance to indulge and you took it. In the years since, the money’s been replaced a thousand times over, yet the nostalgia remains. And grows.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that explains why we indulge, however you define it. 10% delights in the moment’s luxury, while 90% luxuriates in an eternity’s nostalgia. Beyond that, we’re filling out our order forms for the next stage, perhaps?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I am back… anyway, The Odyssey was a high end restaurant (like I said, I was young and wasteful with money) with my friend who was another girl (but not a “girlfriend” but a girl who was a friend, as I said). Not sure of the proper etiquette for this title cuz it was a friend ONLY.

    Anyway, your recipe brings nostalgic memories to my senses because you write and prepare dishes with such exquisite expertise!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Once again, I’m most grateful, Tamara!

      “Friend” conveys the concept well. It’s our society’s fault carnality weights so many of our terms, making most of them needlessly difficult.

      Anyway, glad the food invokes nostalgia. After all, good cooking always satisfies more than just the palate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Animals eat for their stomachs only, for the grim objective of avoiding starvation. Although, our pets’ appreciative gaze upon being fed may suggest occasionally there’s more to it than that.

        Still, among more sophisticated creatures (i.e., us), there’s an abundance of motivations. The thoughtful cook engages many of them.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I forgot to tell you that a looong time ago, I deleted my Pinterest page that had thousands of followers just to start all over again. Not sure of the reason but I think it was cuz I became overwhelmed. I was sorry after I did it. But… say la vee

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, Tamara, that explains why I “lost” you as a Pinterest follower.

      All in all, I haven’t been on Pinterest much lately, greatly preferring Instagram. Sure, Pinterest has a vast audience, but genuine interaction is rare. That’s the whole reason for social media, the conversations. I suspect you agree.

      I definitely relate to you being overwhelmed. That’s why I post only once a week – more often than that, and the cooking and writing would overwhelm. Typically, I shop on Friday, cook on Saturday, and write on Sunday – here, on Instagram, and sometimes on Pinterest too.

      A new start does allow you to reset your priorities and direction, ness paw?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Luh vray-mont!

        Pinterest never took off for me. As you mentioned, Tamara, “Liking” a pin is just about all the extravagance Pinterest allows its users. Aside from that, there are those weird notifications I get when Person B likes Person C’s post. Eh? Maybe this happens among topics related to mine.

        In any event, I find Pinterest to be difficult to navigate. Every once in a while, I post something, but those moments of Pinterest citizenship are becoming less common. Of course, I love it that Pinterest allows users to link to specific WordPress entries. This is possible on Instagram only by convoluted methods, and the link isn’t clickable. Still, Instagram gets my vote.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think you’ll like it, Tamara. The Kardashians’ or The Rock’s millions of followers are elusive, but already the IG audience is comparable in size to what remains here at WP. Not that I have any plans to decamp this platform, as WP allows for richer expression, and most people, like you, who keep up with the blog are here.

        Anyway, hope to see you on IG one day!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Crystal!

      The Aioli/Puppy combination was a hit, and both were gone by Saturday evening. Nothing remained but the photos and the memories, yet the article they inspired grants immortality.

      As for the limerick’s finale, my guess is “chuck it,” That doesn’t quite seem to fit, though, does it?

      Like

    1. That’s so cool, Jenn! Once you’ve had homemade, you never will go back to canned broth, other than in emergency situations.

      Beef stock is a little fussier and it takes longer, but both it and chicken essence are entirely practical. Refinement takes all day, but it’ll give you months of supplies for the freezer. (Hint: Start making room ahead of time.) Oh, and do you and your husband have a stockpot?

      Anyway, a stock overview/tutorial is slated for this winter, when a steamy kitchen will be most welcome. Right now, I plan to cover my personal Top-Four list: Chicken (of course), Beef, Shrimp, and Dashi (Japanese seaweed base). Thanks so much for your continued interest, Jenn!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Nice, Jenn! January’s bubbling, chicken-enchanted cauldron may not have the same appeal in balmy L.A. as it does here in the snowy Northeast, but as I recall, a shiver or two among the palms isn’t unknown.

        What, as usual, it took me way too many words to say is, crafting beef stock is a nifty replacement for the heater. Plus, it invigorates dry, lifeless winter air.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Ha! Oh, I can’t believe this. Is that what I think it is? Because it looks an awful lot like a Keith-written limerick to me. That is amazing. I was on my way to catch up with the posts I’ve missed, starting with the earliest, and I saw that. Made what remains of my night, I think. 😄

    And my compliments to you on your ocean — er, table. You’ve even populated it quite nicely with such seafaring creatures as lobster, shrimp, bass, scallops, and… hush puppies? Now there’s a confusing name…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Rachel! Problem is, that last line veered off course, and now I have no idea how to conclude the limerick. Seriously, you’re the poet, so what rhymes with “Nantucket” or “bucket?” Our chef awaits direction. What’s his parting shot?

      Glad you liked the soup, and you identified it well as being an “ocean.” Were it heavy as are many chowders, it would’ve had to wait for the snow. It’s light and open, though, making it a natural tie-in to a summer beach vacation.

      It’s nice to have you back, by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ohh, I think it’s very clear what the conclusion of the last line must be. 😝 In truth, I think how you did it was fairly clever. “Nantucket” and “bucket” have an inevitable rhyme that is difficult to circumvent organically, and your solution… Well, it got a laugh out of me.

        Indeed. It’s interesting how you match what you make to the season… It makes perfect sense, but I never really thought about it before.

        Thanks, Keith! Though I’ve gone and been neglectful for a while again — I’m sorry about that. I’ve been preoccupied lately: mentally, and in some cases, otherwise.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Still, Rachel, your return is the takeaway here. It matters far more than does your temporary leave to see to other things. I’ll be here.

        As you know, lockdown produced a list of recipes continuing to early summer 2026. I’m particularly eager to read your impressions of more than a few of them. Not just the ingredients themselves, but of the photos and the text I plan to accompany them. Question is, can I keep your interest for another four years (at least)?

        Now, in attempting to complete the poetry, how about “shuck it?” It fits with the shellfish theme 🦪, though making it fit requires something of a stretch. Particularly as every reader’s mind goes automatically to that crude four-letter word. Is it the poet’s fault people misinterpret things? 😏

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you again. 🙂

        It’s less a matter of you keeping my interest, I fear (if that were all, then I could easily say the next four years are guaranteed), and more a matter of me maintaining an interest in expressing my impressions. I can be a silly thing… And sometimes I conclude that being such a silly thing automatically disqualifies me from things like talking to people.

        Ha! That could work! Playing off the shellfish… Clever. But now if I can’t think of a single bucket rhyme, I’ll be in hot water, being the established “poet” and all. Well, let’s see… There’s “chuck it.” And… nope. I’m back to the original.

        And you know… one could argue that the writer is his own reader, first. 😜

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Your kindness is much appreciated, Rachel!

        Regarding “silliness,” the only I can find is this notion your expressiveness is inadequate. You, the poet, gilding your verse in perpetuity? The half dozen or so fascinating conversations we’re running simultaneously here, on my page?

        Please, no obligation. While I do look forward to your comments, they’re better, even, when they’re organic. Nothing forced, nothing rote. Enjoying the advantage of knowing what recipes, dinnerware, and linens the future will bring, lots of great conversations ahead.

        That last line is a real corker, isn’t it? “To those who think chowder needs clams, I say…”

        “If you want a neat bed and you see a loose sheet, tuck it.”

        Pretty clumsy and way too many words. Messes up the limerick’s flow. Doesn’t make any sense either. Back to the writing desk for Draft #1762…

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Ha! Oh, my verse is gilded alright — in pyrite. But I tip my proverbial hat to your generous words, and bow my thanks to your kindness.

        Oof, careful what you wish for. Technically speaking, silence is the only word that can come without effort, and nothing the only thing that can arrive unforced. Life, I daresay, requires some degree of forcing, and even roteness… Like spice and salt: the latter boring and indispensable, the former horrifying and yet occasionally (and surprisingly) rejuvenating.

        Hah! That last line really is. Though maybe Draft #1761 could inspire its own limerick. Let’s see…

        There once was a man from Nantucket
        Who no longer would sleep in a bucket
        He bought from a vendor who said
        “If you want a neat bed
        Then when you see a loose sheet, tuck it!”

        But the bed did not reach to his feet
        They hung over in chill and in heat
        Still, the vendor, he said
        “I’ll refund when I’m dead!”
        And so was he killed by receipt.

        …I shouldn’t try to write limericks when tired. 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Outstanding, Rachel, outstanding! Your limerick sparkles with cleverness. Obviously, fatigue doesn’t hinder your creativity, it enhances. All the more impressive you composed this in one evening and in response to an odd, orphaned thought I cast in your direction.

        Seriously, it took me a whole day to come up with something fitting for my Boston friend, and I already knew ahead of time what the topic would be. You’re twice as witty and 188.56% more descriptive, all at a moment’s notice and coming out of nowhere. That’s artistry.

        As for Silence being the only true alternative to Force, points well-chosen, and I appreciate your nuanced approach. To a large degree, all expression is derivative, as we’ve been civilized and writing for millennia now, and talking far longer than that. Broadly, what can we say which hasn’t been said already?

        Still, expressiveness and an occasional talent for wordsmithing provide opportunity for infinite originality. Moreover, the circumstances which inspire these thoughts change constantly, providing assurance each beacon shines on its own. The least we, as creatives, can do is to come up with fresh thinking each time.

        I think neither of us need worry about this.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I like odd, orphaned thoughts. 🙂 I probably could start an orphanage…

        Your point that my being quicker and whatnot implies greater artistry, is rejected. You’re not accounting for A: the days (weeks? months?) I’ve spent at times, trying, to no avail, to write an acceptable poem, or B: the fact it’s much easier (and time friendly) to be witty when you’re not trying.

        But your point about expressiveness is happily conceded.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Reject it if you must, but that doesn’t change reality. You did compose something in just a couple hours, Fraulein Mozart.

        You’ve spent years in verse’s theater? So what? I hardly think you gave much mind to this point about sleeping in a bucket. Yet, in less time than it takes to prepare and savor good food, you gave our Nantucket chef another life.

        Question is, did he ever do anything with lobsters? 🦞 Or was it just a waking dream? 🛌

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Well, his sleeping arrangement overhaul was in part impelled by his renting a room at Rosy’s Bucket & Breakfast — a quaint little place built over the water, in which every room has a fish tank with different occupants. Three guesses what was in his…

        Liked by 1 person

      10. A hedgehog? Coconuts? A chocolate cake Rosy ruined by submerging it?

        Come on, one of those three has to be it, right? Maybe f Rosy’s mad scheme to put an aquarium in every room didn’t obsess him so, he’d find a way to provide lodgers with more than just a bucket to refresh their weary frames.

        Oh, it is a Bucket & Breakfast. So, what exactly does a pirate serve up each morning? Hardtack? Grog? Or maybe, surpassing everyone’s expectations, Eggs Benedict, the ultimate Build-Your-Own-Crepes-Suzette bar, and the fluffiest waffles this side of Belgium? Including syrup Rosy tapped himself from his Vermont maple groves.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Ha! Poor cake. There was a room like that. The human occupant insisted it was “still good” and tried to eat it. It was horrible… Some say his spirit still haunts the room. Though whether “his” refers to the man or the cake, I’m not entirely clear.

        I won’t touch on Rosy’s occasionally dubious business sense (he might hear), but I will admit that the menu is somewhat… Illegible, and I’ve yet to see anyone order successfully. That cake was probably good at one point, though, so who knows?

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Smart of you, heeding Rosy’s suspicious eyes when writing. As I reply, you may see something which sparks agreement. Don’t type anything, though. Just nod your head…

        As for the cake, it started with chocolate, providing it much excellence to dissolve. Unfortunately, 50 gallons of salt water did precisely that. All in keeping with Rosy’s astounding notion that everything is better with a little sea water.

        Rosy should stick to his knitting. He’s an above average distiller. His nautical exploits place him comfortably among Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, and Captain Jack Sparrow. As for fashion, he exceeds even Oscar de la Renta, Kurt Lagerfeld, Vera Wang, and Coco Chanel.

        In his cooking, though, Rosy’s guests/captives are better off with the ship’s wormy hardtack.

        Speaking of the unfortunate who perished after sampling the waterlogged cake, I heard the same thing, though in my version, the guest/prisoner was a woman. As you know firsthand, chocolate drives women in particular to distraction. A fact I, and any red-blooded male, take into account when planning recipes.

        Crafty, that Felix.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. *Nodding*

        Though… I can’t fault the pirate for wanting to better himself. It’s an admirable aspiration. When people don’t die, preferably; but then, that’s not completely unheard of even in the things he IS good at.

        And speaking of people dying, I do believe you’re right. I automatically defaulted to the masculine, but that particular detail was glossed over in the stories I heard. Your logic, however, cannot be faulted — nor your craftiness denied. 😆

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Good point, Rachel. If Rosy hadn’t dared, would we ever have heard of his mad fashion skills?

        True, most pirates do sport stunning eyepatches, but below the peepers… Well, no comment. Too many hooks and peglegs for clothing to be anything but a disaster. Yet Rosy tried. So doing made him a gentleman among rogues, at least as far as garments go.

        As for cooking, leave that to the (A)mateurs. Say what you will about my swashbuckling or my plundering, I do run a tight ship. Or a ship-shape galley, at least. The crew does seem to be happy for the most part.

        And I resolve never to cook swordfish.

        Like

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