Beginning with the Base
By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
What’s the secret to a great chowder?
According to Dave DeLozier, chowder chef for Moby Rick’s Seafood Company, the retail outlet for the Saratoga Farmers’ Market’s Pura Vida Fisheries, it’s all about the base
“That’s the hardest thing to get right,” said DeLozier.
DeLozier spoke with me last weekend at Moby Rick’s, after I had sampled his contribution to this weekend’s annual Chowderfest at the Pura Vida stall at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, which – perhaps unpredictably – includes neither clams nor cream, two things that I had long assumed were characteristic of any chowder. One goal of Saratoga’s Chowderfest might be to dispute that claim. Among the many chowders being offered for $1 three-ounce tastings are those that contain clams and cream along with dozens that have nothing resembling those presumed stables at all.
Moby Rick is offering a Thai inspired curry soup built from a base of fish bone broth, wine, and coconut milk. On top of the base are scallops and shrimp from Pura Vida and leeks, bok choy and onion from the market’s Pleasant Valley Farms. Garlic, butter, turmeric, ginger, thyme and a touch of sugar round out the soup.
My sample arrived pleasantly warm. Like any good fish chowder should smell, this one’s aroma said ocean all the way. But the taste was not fishy. It was mildly spicy with a gentle sweet after-taste. That combination of warm spice with soft sweetness complemented the scallops and shrimp quite well.
The Thai Curry Soup was one of several chowders that DeLozier prepared over the past month for customers at Pura Vida as well as Moby Rick’s. He dished out samples and collected feedback. This, in part, made the Thai curry soup the shop’s choice for Chowderfest. DeLozier anticipates serving 45 gallons in three-ounce increments Saturday.
“We always sold out when we had it,” DeLozier says, “and when we didn’t have it, customers asked for it.”
The soup also appealed because it was dairy and gluten free.
But its real charm and nutritional value, says DeLozier, comes from the base: a bone broth made from a long slow simmer of fish bones, with wine and some starchy root vegetables rolled in, and coconut milk added toward the end.
Visit the Saratoga Farmers’ Market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. at the Lincoln Baths Building in the Saratoga Spa State Park.
Anything Goes Seafood Chowder
Adapted from recipe by Aroostook on Food.com
30 minutes to prepare and cook
*Ingredients currently available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market
• 2 cups fish or chicken broth (find fish broth at Pura Vida Fisheries)*
• 2 small onions, diced fine*
• 3 potatoes, cut into half inch chunks*
• 2 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves*
• 1 lb fish fillet of choice*
• 1⁄2 lb of shrimp or crab or lobsters or scallops or mussels or clams or oysters*
• 4 cups half-and-half*
• 2 tablespoons butter
• salt and pepper
1. Heat stock and add potatoes and fresh thyme.
2. Cook gently until tender.
3. Add onions and simmer 5 minutes.
4. Add fish and seafood, and gently simmer 10 minutes or until cooked through.
5. Add half-and-half and butter.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve w/ common crackers or oyster crackers.