Thursday, December 20, 2007

Who's not in the aquarium, now?

For some time I have been collecting fish. Not the kind that go into the aquarium, rather the type that you pick up at the local fishmonger's shop! As fish is so expensive these days, I tend to pick it up in the knock-down section of the local supermarket.

We used to have a good fishmonger in Tullamore. Sadly she shut up shop; her main customer's the small Chinese population in the town. It seems that we Irish aren't that adventurous; our tastes extending only as far as the traditional whiting on a Friday evening.

Personally I love fish. However I do have to be in the mood for it, a fact which is proven by the fact that for a number of months there have been three fillets of hermetically sealed smoked mackerel residing in my refrigerator. No doubt I had great intentions when they were purchased, however these are yet to be realised!

Anyway, yesterday I discovered much to my disgust that we're out of meat; a tragedy of epic proportions in our house! Being ever resourceful; I decided in my wisdom that I would use up some of my frozen fish mountain. I originally had intended to make a fish Chowder & have been collecting all manner of fish for a medley; determined not to follow the example of the chef who had made me unwell by using only salmon in his Chowder! Ugh!

From the depths of the deep freeze I extracted two packets of Cod, one smoked and one not. I know Cod doesn't sound very exciting, no more than boring old Whiting, but in this day and age Cod is verging on a luxury. Since the Cod wars of the 1970's this poor fish has been almost driven to extinction by over fishing and is no longer one of the less expensive varieties. In fact it's a bit of a treat to have Cod these days!

So after very little ado my own version of Chowder is what I made for dinner last night! Please don’t complain that it isn’t a medley of fishy delights; as I had originally intended, just try it and see how you like it instead! I served it up with hot floury boiled jacket potatoes, runner beans and curly kale; alternatively it could be served with a generous portion of fresh homemade crusty bread.

Cod Chowder (serves 4)


  • 1 knob of butter
  • 2 med fillets cod, cut into large chunks
  • 2 med fillets smoked cod, cut into large chunks
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 leek
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • ¾ pt vegetable stock
  • ½ pt Cream of leek and potato soup
  • 1 tbsp plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper


  1. Finely chop vegetables, dicing the carrot.
  2. Sautee vegetables in melted butter until leeks opaque in appearance.
  3. Add vegetable stock and simmer until vegetables are al dente.
  4. Add cubed cod to top of liquid and allow simmering for ten to fifteen minutes.
  5. Drain approximately half cooking liquid, and reserve.
  6. Replace cooking liquid with leek and potato soup, stirring very gently to prevent fish cubes breaking.
  7. Re-heat to serving temperature.
  8. Mix flour with small quantity of reserved cooking liquid and gently stir into mixture.
  9. When the sauce has thickened so that it resembles a pouring sauce, serve in deep bowl with chunks of fresh crusty bread or with potatoes and vegetables & enjoy!

Any Cream of Leek & Potato Soup will be acceptable, however I prefer to use my recipe which is very simple to prepare and is great as a starter to any light meal served at any time of the year.

Cream of Leek & Potato Soup (serves 5)


  • 2 large Leeks, sliced into batons or rounds
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 3/4 pint vegetable stock
  • Salt & Pepper
  • ¾ pint full cream milk
  • 1 knob butter

  1. Sautee sliced leeks in melted butter until opaque.
  2. Add diced potato and sauté for a further five minutes.
  3. Add vegetable stock & bring to the boil.
  4. Cover & simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
  6. Liquidize until smooth.
  7. Gently add the milk, season & return to heat.
  8. Heat to Serving Temperature and serve!
  9. Garnish with finely chopped parsley & chives or scallions, croutons & a drizzle of cream if trying to impress friends!

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