IT’S THE “THYME” OF THE SEASON
IT'S PUMPKIN FISH CHOWDER "THYME"
If it has not been apparent by now, this iBass360 blogger is a music aficionado. This month we call on the Zombies from the ‘60’s for some recipe guidance. If you know it, sing along
It's the time of the season When stripers run high In this time, give’m to me easy And let me try with pressured hands
To reel them in the sundown To promised lands To show you every one It's the thyme of the season for pumpkin fish
Ok, I took a few liberties, but everyone else is doing it, so why not iBass360? It really does not matter whether you're catching striped bass or another chunky mild-flavored fish, they're all good in a chowder- the perfect meal after a cool fall day on the water. We have posted some fish and seafood-based chowder recipes in the past, and the response has been positive. Since it is October, I got to thinking about using pumpkin as a base for the chowder. Pumpkin or squash
soup has long been a fall favorite, even before people got the idea to spice up their coffee, donuts and just about everything else. So… here we go- PUMPKIN FISH CHOWDER!
This recipe must start off on the right foot- out in the field with the kids or grandkids picking the right pumpkins. If you have made pumpkin pie from scratch, you probably know that when you get to the farm (please NOT the grocery store and NOT from a can) there are going to be some sorry-shaped pumpkins being touted as "pie pumpkins” (aka sugar pumpkins). These have a great taste and starchier flesh. You’re cooking a savory dish so that is probably an indicator that these are your pumpkins of choice. Jack-o-lantern-style pumpkins are best left for scary faces and a haunting glow. If it’s not obvious which you should select, or there are too many choices, ask the farmer for a recommendation- it’s their business to know.
After running around the farm getting the right pumpkins, it’s time for the roasting. Sure, you can hurl some of your best Don Rickles insults at them but it’s not that kind of roast. This is cooking! Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and any stringy flesh, cut the halves into smaller pieces, and roast at 350 for about 45 minutes until flesh is tender- just like a baked potato. Once roasted, scoop out the flesh. The skin should easily peel away. Discard it, and chop up the flesh. Now we’re ready to turn it into pumpkin seafood chowder! If you want a rule of thumb for how long all this will take- think 1 ½ hours- 1 for the roasting, ½ for the chowdering. Here are your INGREDIENTS
1 pumpkin pie pumpkin, roasted, flesh removed, chopped (if you followed above, mark this item with a big CHECK!)
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
4 TBSPs butter
2 cups fish broth or clam juice
2 pints heavy cream or half and half
1 pound fresh shrimp or 2 cans shrimp, water drained
1 pound fresh crab meat (or 2 cans lump crab meat, drained) OR fresh peeled shrimp chopped into smallish pieces.
1 pound striped bass, cod, halibut or white fish (catfish if that is your jam) that chops easily into bite-sized chunks
2-4 tsps coriander
2-4 tsps cumin
3-4 sprigs thyme (I told you there would be thyme this season!)
1 bay leaf
brown sugar optional, to taste
sea salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
Now, here are your INSTRUCTIONS:
If you have not done so, go to top of this article and prepare & roast pumpkin, removing flesh as described.
Heat butter in large stock pot over med. heat. Add onions. Saute until soft, 15-20 mins
Add fish stock, cream and pumpkin flesh
Use hand blender or immersion blender to puree. Do this BEFORE bringing to boil to keep splashes from burning you
Add “in the nick of” thyme and bay leaf
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes.
Slowly add brown sugar, salt, pepper, cumin and coriander. You must “taste as you go” to find your preferred flavor level
Add seafood and cook a few minutes until crab (or shrimp) and fish are cooked through.
Ladle into bowls and top with a pinch of nutmeg.
Sit down in front of a football game and ENJOY!
Having a party or family gathering? Here are some TIPS:
1. Double up ingredients for a huge pot for additional meals. This chowder will freeze well also.
2. Your primary fish should be your catch but you can add other seafoods like lobster meat or scallops- it’s all good.
3. Think it needs a little somethin’-somethin’? Add some ginger and garlic with the onions.
4. Want to “Top it Off? What doesn’t go well with dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream? Go for it!
5. Want to really impress? Drop your serving container inside hollowed-out pumpkin painted in your team colors or as a favorite ghoul