2 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice
2 cups heavy cream
1 14 ounce can coconut milk (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
4 ears fresh sweet corn
1 pound bacon, diced
1 large red skin potato, peeled and cubed, about 2 cups
1 medium onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
dash of ground allspice
1 pound mixed seafood – frozen pre-mixed, thawed
1 teaspoon coconut extract
Sea salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot, add olive oil and butter. Saute half the onion until just translucent. Add the flour and cook over medium high heat, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add the cream and the coconut milk.
Remove the corn from the cobs and set aside the corn. Add the cobs to the stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Don’t let the stock boil. Boiled cream can get a little gluey. Remove and discard the corn cobs. The corn cobs add a little starch for thickening and they add tremendous flavor.
In a large frying pan, over medium heat, add the bacon. Cook gently until bacon is crispy and most of the fat has been rendered. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and cool on paper towels.
To the hot bacon fat, add the diced potatoes, corn, onion and celery. Saute until vegetables start to brown. Add the thyme, old bay and allspice. Salt and pepper to taste. Remember, the bacon fat is already salty, so go easy on the salt.
Add the sauteed vegetables to the stock and simmer until ready to serve the chowder, but at least 15 minutes. When ready to serve, add the mixed seafood. Simmer for about 5 minutes and serve. If the seafood mix hasn’t been thawed, give it a bit more time, about an extra 5 minutes. The seafood will cook very quickly. To avoid tough, chewy fish, don’t cook it more than 5 minutes.
My secret weapon is the coconut extract added at the end. I found that the coconut flavor was not as prominent as I would have liked with just the coconut milk. So, at the same time that I added the seafood, I added a teaspoon of coconut extract. Yummmm, just what I had been looking for to drive home the Caribbean flavors.
I garnished mine with a crab claw. I have seen variations of this recipe with the crispy bacon bits added just before serving. I think they get too soggy, and I hate soggy rubbery bacon in soup. So, suit yourself, if you want to add the bacon, go for it!