With food, and much more besides, necessity is often the mother of invention. Given hungry mouths to feed and a handful of ingredients, the cook will knock up a satisfying dish.
What’s more curious is why, given the same ingredients, different dishes emerge from different regions – and why some dishes do not. Take this week’s seafood chowder as an example. Lincolnshire is abound with fish, potatoes, milk and small veg, but chowder is not a traditional Lincolnshire dish.
And yet, when the Pilgrims left Lincolnshire back in the seventeenth century and arrived in the New World, finding the same ingredients, they made chowder. It took a little while for the Pilgrims to take to the native clams, considering them the “meanest of God’s blessings”, but by 1751 the first recorded recipe for a clam chowder appeared, of all places, in the Boston Evening Post.
Fortunately, chowder recipes made it back home over the Atlantic and it is has been a popular dish in the UK ever since.
This dish is a perfect winter warmer. It is rich, creamy and a whole meal in a bowl. Being quick to make, it is also a great midweek meal for busy cooks. There are also no rules. Change and adapt it to what you have lying about. Fresh fish can be supplemented with the readily available packs of frozen seafood. Swap the parsley for tarragon, or dill, or chives. Let necessity and the contents of your fridge be the mother of your own chowder invention.
Ingredients (serves 4)
500g mixed fish and seafood
4 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced,
1 leek, finely chopped
1 cup sweetcorn
1 cup peas
450ml fish stock
1 tablespoon plain flour
In a large pan, fry the leeks and carrots in olive oil and butter gently for 10 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and continue for a further few minutes.
Stir in the flour and then add the fish stock and milk. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes until the potatoes are getting soft.
Add the peas, sweetcorn and mixed fish and seafood and cook for a further 5 minutes until the fish is cooked through. Garnish with parsley and serve with good crusty bread.