My son moved to Ireland in September 2020, and we were fortunate enough to visit him in July of 2021. We absolutely fell in love with the Emerald Isle. We were there for three weeks, staying for a few days with Brian and his family and then venturing out on our own for a few days exploring beautiful Ireland. It was perfect—we got a taste of local life as well as time as tourists.
I always thought of Ireland as a meat and potatoes country, mainly because of what I knew about their traditional dishes—colcannon mash and stew, corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, and Shepherd’s pie. I was pleasantly surprised at the diversity, quality, and variety of foods. Since Ireland is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Celtic and Irish Seas, seafood is abundant. Almost every restaurant we patronized had seafood chowder on the menu, which contained an assortment of white fish, salmon, scallops, and shrimp. My husband loved the seafood chowder he ate in Ireland so much that he asked me to make it when we returned to the States. Following is my re-creation of Salmon Chowder we ate at a quaint, Irish restaurant. It is the perfect meal for cold, chilly evenings.
Salmon Chowder Serves 4 Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.
½ pound red potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes ½ pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into ½-inch wide strips (about 6 slices) 1 cup fresh or frozen corn 1 cup carrots, peeled and sliced thin (about 2 carrots) 1 cup green onions, sliced thin (about 1 bunch) 1 tablespoon minced garlic 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves 1 bay leaf ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 3 cups milk ¾ cup heavy cream 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet, skin discarded and cut into 1-inch pieces ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice Fresh minced parsley for garnish In a large saucepan, place potatoes with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until pieces are tender yet remain firm when pierced with a fork, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
In a 5-quart heavy kettle, place bacon over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings from the kettle. Add corn and carrots to the kettle and sauté until carrots are tender, about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low. Add green onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes and sauté until green onions are tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Add milk and heavy cream and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt, and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve: Ladle chowder into bowls and garnish with parsley.
Shopping for carrots: Select well-shaped carrots with smooth exteriors and closely trimmed tops. My father taught me the brighter the color, the sweeter the flavor. Do not buy soft, wilted, or split carrots. Dark, slimy, yellowed tops that are beginning to sprout are an indication of decay. For the freshest carrots, buy bunches with bright green, leafy tops. The tops deteriorate quickly once the carrots are harvested, so if the tops are green, it means they were recently picked.
Shopping for potatoes: Select firm, smooth, clean potatoes that have few eyes and good color. Potatoes should be blemish-free. Russets should have a net-like textured skin, oval shape, and brown color. Irregular-shaped potatoes produce more waste when peeling. Do not buy potatoes with wrinkled or wilted skin, sprouts, or cut surfaces. Avoid potatoes with soft, dark spots.
Shopping for salmon: To purchase really fresh salmon, shop with your nose. Fresh fish never smells “fishy” but has a fresh, mild order. Fish only smells “fishy” or like ammonia when it starts to decompose. Also, shop with your eyes. Fresh fish should have a firm texture and moist appearance. Avoid fish that is dry or brown around the edges. Always buy fresh fish that has been refrigerated or properly iced. The best fish is the freshest, no more than 2 to 3 days out of the water.
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Insider Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
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