Sometimes I feel sorry for Carlo. I’m not always easy to deal with. I read a lot (too much), and get intensely interested in whatever I’ve learned. That’s cool, but I’m also impatient. When I learn about something new, I usually need to try it right away. Carlo’s the best. He’s very patient with my whims and hardly scolds me when my obsessions lead me to buy four bottles of rum in the space of a month. Honestly, though, I felt justified. As I was doing research for this, I discovered all kinds of exciting things about rum, and then I had to try all the different kinds. This obsession led me to dark rum, which led me to what we had for dinner this weekend.

Bermuda Fish Chowder has a tomato rather than a milk base, and is rich, sweet, and satisfying, without being unhealthy. Plus, its rich flavour is complemented with a generous glug of rum. I’m not big on fish soup, as I find very fishy flavours unpleasant, so I was pleased that this soup had nice clean flavours, and the fish was tasty instead of overwhelming. I suppose the lightness of the fish was due to the fish I used– basa, snapper, and cod, along with scallops and shrimp. Also, the soup had a good amount of spiciness, thanks to red chili flakes and a jalapeno (the original recipe called for sherry pepper sauce, which I didn’t have, so I improvised with some sherry vinegar and the addition of the peppers).

Bermuda Fish Chowder
Adapted from epicurious.com. See the original here
While this chowder isn’t difficult, it is time-consuming. If you plan to eat it the same day, allow 2-2 1/2 hours total time before eating. And if your husband wants to practice his cooking-course knife skills, make sure you start well in advance (completely uniform veg in this soup IS very pleasant, I must add).

1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup canned, diced tomato or 1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt

2 cups bottled clam juice
6 cups water

3 lb mixed white fish fillets such as cod, snapper, and basa, (feel free to improvise), skin and bones removed and cut into large chunks
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole allspice, tied in a cheesecloth bag (I used ground, and added it directly to the pot)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled, or a couple sprigs of fresh thyme
1 jalapeno, diced small(optional)
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred together with 3 tablespoons water to make a slurry

1/2 lb. medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 lb. scallops
2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dark rum, or to taste

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or to taste. (feel free to leave this out, or substitute the real thing– sherry pepper sauce)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the onion, bell pepper, leek, carrots,tomato, and garlic in butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Toss in red pepper flakes, and salt, cooking for 1 more minute. Stir in clam juice and water and bring to a boil. After the soup is boiling, simmer it briskly, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Stir in the fish, tomato paste, bay leaf, allspice, thyme, jalapeno (if using), hot pepper sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes (fish will break up), then add cornstarch slurry (make sure it’s stirred and the cornstarch hasn’t clumped in the bottom) and stir into chowder. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Stir in scallops, shrimp, Worcestershire sauce, and rum and gently simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let chowder stand, covered, 1 hour (or better yet, overnight). Return your chowder to a simmer, then add a touch of sherry vinegar (to taste).

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