West Australian fish chowder

Driving to Treeton at Easter, we took basic ingredients for our local version of a New England fish chowder.  With a promise of guests and a cool Saturday evening, this soup is simple, delicious and quick to prepare.

The secret of a great fish chowder is combining some ingredients that disintegrate into the soup and others that hold their form and texture.

Buying fish in Perth from the Crawley boatsheds caravan, I picked orange roughy fillet and one perfect swordfish steak.

Just past the Dawesville Cut, I pulled in to buy whiting fillets (perfect for the stock) and some local prawns. 

Two fresh loaves of olive ciabatta from the Lawley Bakery, purple Royal Blue potatoes and fresh parsley finished the shopping.

Ingredients (for 10 good servings)

1.5kg fish, cut into 3-4cm pieces

Optional: 0.5kg uncooked prawn flesh

0,5kg rindless bacon, cut into small strips

5 large onions, coarsely chopped

6-8 large potatoes, sliced to 0.5cm

Large bunch of parsley, chopped finely

Salt and a pinch of cayenne to taste. 

1-2 tablespoons  of flour.

Preparation time is maybe 25 minutes if you go slowly and enjoy the sunset.   In a (very) large saucepan, spread thin layers of the ingredients in the order: bacon, fish. onion, parsley, potato slices and then repeat.  Just cover the ingredients with water, bring to the boil and with the flame down to  a low simmer, you can walk away from the kitchen.  After 45 minutes, take a ladle of the stock and carefully blend the flour.  Pour this back into the saucepan and stir gently. Simmer gently for a further 10 minutes.

Serve at the table with your choice of bread and maybe a fresh green salad on the side.  White and red wines both go wonderfully with this dish:  I chose the 2008 Treeton Estate Chardonnay.

John Simmonds