For years sailors have piled the oceans bringing back fresh seafood and nothing could be more satisfying (or warming) than turning that seafood into chowder, a thick stew of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans. And nowhere on earth is seafood chowder more revered than in Nova Scotia, a Canadian province surrounded by four bodies of water–the Atlantic Ocean, the Bay of Fundy, the Northumberland Strait, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence–where many of its residents depend on fishing for their livelihoods. In fact, they’re so crazy about chowder in this ocean-going province, the tourism folks have created the Chowder Trail, complete with a passport that visitors fill out as they try different chowders and can mail in for the chance to win prizes.
Chowders are as varied as the cooks who make them. They may contain almost any type of seafood and usually potatoes and onions. Some are so thick you can stand a spoon in them; others have a thin, creamy broth. During a recent journey to Nova Scotia, we tried more than a dozen chowders and, in my opinion, the best came from the Acadian restaurant La Cuisine Robicheau in Saulnierville, in southern Nova Scotia, and the owners of the restaurant, Nadine and Chef Scott Robicheau have generously shared their recipe with us.
Editor’s Note: This recipe feeds a crowd–enough for 25-30 one-cup servings. If that’s too much, simply cut the recipe in half.
The recipe calls for salted shallots, a local product available in jars in Nova Scotia. Salting fresh shallots was a way Acadians used to preserve onions over the winter. Essentially, you chop shallots and add them to a brine of salt and water for 24 hours. Then scoop them into a jar. If you’re interested in how to make your own salted shallots, check out this video featuring the late renown Acadian chef Paul Comeau of Chez Christophe www.acadievivante.ca/en/Themes/Food/Salted_shallots
Nadine says some people find salted shallots too salty. It’s optional in this recipe.
The seafood in this recipe—haddock, scallops, and lobster—are all ingredients readily found in Nova Scotia. If they’re not available in your area, try substituting local seafood.
Recipe courtesy Nadine and Scott Robicheau, La Cuisine Robicheau lacuisinerobicheau.ca
Makes 25-30 cup size portions
16 cups potatoes, diced
1 cup onion, diced
2 tbsp. salted shallots or fresh shallots with a little extra salt (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
5 lbs haddock, cut in large pieces
3 lbs. scallops
1 lb. cooked lobster meat
2 cans Carnation evaporated milk
Brown onions in butter in an large pot and then add remaining ingredients. Fill with enough water to cover potatoes (about 2 inches above). Boil on high for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, but leave the pot on the burner. Add the haddock pieces, scallops and cooked lobster meat.
Turn the burner to low, cover the pot and let simmer for about 10 minutes. This will cook the seafood (be careful not to overcook it).
Just before serving, add 2 cans Carnation milk.
Want to read more about Nova Scotia? Check out “Best of Southern Nova Scotia” for more things to see, do, places to stay, and, of course, great places to eat.
For more information about Nova Scotia, check out www.novascotia.com