Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blackfish Chowder

C and I caught 2 blackfish (tautog) while out fishing yesterday.  They are sneaky bastards!  Blackfish like to make lairs in/around rocks which can make them tricky to catch without snagging your line.  We used green crab as bait, but you could also use shrimp, clams, or mussels.  Be careful when pulling your hook out-they have powerful jaws with back teeth that look like molars.

They yielded 4 fillets (about 1 lb 9 oz).  C fillets them-I want nothing to do with that portion of it.  Too much work and too much patience required.

After asking my friend Zoe what she thought about recipes I had in mind, she recommended I try making a chower because of how well the fish holds together.  I googled away, and came up with a variation of a recipe that sounded really good.

Blackfish (Tautog) Chowder

10 oz - 1 lb blackfish (if you're trying to stretch out a little meat, like me, up the potatoes)
4 slices bacon
1 - 3 cups red potatoes, diced
1/2 cup white onion, roughly chopped
2 - 3 cups of water (when using more potato and less fish, you'll need more water)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup clam juice\
1 (12-13 oz) can evaporated milk
3 tablespoons butter
kosher salt & pepper to taste

1)  After brining the fish, rinse & pat dry.  Cut into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

2)  Cut the bacon slices in half (not length-wise).  Cook in a skillet until crisp, turning once.  Place cooked bacon on a plate lined with paper towels, to drain excess fat, then crumble.  Toss bacon drippings, saving 2 tablespoons.

3)  In the same skillet, saute the onions in the 2 tablespoons bacon fat until onions are tender, approx 8 minutes.

4)  Transfer onions into a large stockpot, adding the potatos & water.  Cover & bring to a gentle boil.

5)  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

6)  Add the fish and simmer for another 6-10 minutes, or until both fish or potatoes are done (fish will be white and flakey, potatoes soft but not falling apart).

7)  In a bowl, combine the flour & clam juice using a mini-whisk (or fork) until smooth.  Add to stockpot with onions/fish/potatoes.

8)  Stir in the evaporated milk & butter; salt & pepper to taste.  Don't be afraid of the salt-it really adds great flavor.  Heat over medium heat another 5 minutes, when chowder has thickened.

9)  Stir in crumbled bacon just prior to serving.

This is REALLY, really good.  This was my first time making any kind of chowder, as I am only a recent fan. 


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