John Dory Chowder with Mussels and Cider

Rick Stein's Cornish take on a classic New England chowder combines John Dory with mussels and a splash of local cider. Comforting bowl food at its best.

Introduction

I love white chowders, the creamy fish soups from New England. Here, my Cornish version contains some local cider, mussels (perfect if you can gather some from a beach somewhere as they are always pleasingly salty) and John Dory, which is firm, well-flavoured and a very special fish from the West Country.

Serves 4
Easy

Ingredients

500g (1lb) mussels, cleaned
150ml (¼ pint) Cornish cider
25g (1oz) butter
100g (4oz) piece of rindless smoked streaky bacon, cut into small cubes
1 small onion, finely chopped
20g (¾oz) plain flour
1l (1¾ pints) full-cream milk
2 potatoes (about 225g /8oz in total), peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
225g (8oz) John Dory fillet, cut into short, chunky strips
120ml (4fl oz) double cream
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Instructions

Put the cleaned mussels and cider into a medium-sized pan over a high heat. Cover and cook for 2–3 minutes or until they have just opened, shaking the pan occasionally. Tip them into a colander set over a bowl to collect the juices, and remove any that have not opened. Leave to cool slightly and then remove the meats from the shells, cover and set aside. Discard the shells.

Melt the butter in another pan, add the bacon and fry until lightly golden. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually stir in the milk and then add all but the last tablespoon or two of the mussel cooking liquor (the last drops might be a bit gritty). Add the potatoes and bay leaf and 1 level teaspoon of salt, and leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.

Remove the bay leaf, add the pieces of John Dory and simmer for 2–3 minutes or until the fish is just cooked. Stir in the double cream and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt and white pepper.

Remove from the heat and stir in the mussels, to warm them through briefly, and most of the chopped parsley. Serve in warmed bowls, sprinkled with the remaining parsley.

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