I’m not big on giving something up for Lent, though I’m observant as a progressive protestant Christian can be. I’ve been writing FRIDAY FISH every week on the blog for five years now just as a way to think about fasting from meat and to increase our health. What’s happened is that I’ve become more of a fish and seafood cook and have gone out on a
pole limb recipe-wise. Gotten out of my recipe card so to speak. Each year I’m catching something new (oh, gee), tweaking an old dish, or just looking for less-expensive or more available options –particularly for those of us who live in landlocked states like Colorado where fish is available, but not on the scale or quality it is on the coasts.
…scroll down for more info on lent or eating fish on Fridays…
One of my good friends says, “Yeah, I need to make something besides tuna fish on Fridays during Lent.” So I do this for Tony (an excellent cook), for me, and for you if you’re interested in Friday or any day fish or raising your fish and seafood cooking awareness. I may get it done before Friday or I may not, whereas you’ll be skipping on over to the grocery store after work or saving the recipe for the next week. Figure on 7 Fish Fridays in 2019, though occasionally some other recipe may figure in as well.
If you’re interested in other years’ posts, just type Friday Fish into the search box. Likewise you can type Fish or Fish and Seafood. Try Shrimp or Salmon for more specific searches.
Today’s chowder, the first More Time Friday Fish of Lent, 2019, features crab in a can off the shelf, not the admittedly tastier crab from the seafood section cold case. The shelf stable can price is less than half that of the fresh, I paid $4.99 for each of 2 6-ounce cans. I thought it was worth a try since it’s going into chowder, eh?
Since most of the rest of the ingredients are fairly inexpensive (lots are vegetables) and it serves 6 easily, the tab then isn’t too awfully high for a Friday night dinner and may hopefully leave enough for a decent bottle of California Chardonnay. Regular readers will know I go a bit overboard on the amount and variety of vegetables, but check out the summary at the top of the recipe. If needed for budget’s or ease of cooking’s sake, you might simplify by raising the amounts of lesser-costing vegetables such as potatoes and carrots and leaving out favorites of mine like leeks and fennel. Another option is to toss in a bag of frozen vegetables or even add frozen peas to the corn. I wouldn’t skip parsley or scallions (green onions) no matter what.
I use vegetable broth in the interest of a no-meat theme, but if that’s not an issue, pour in chicken broth or water.
By the time Lent is over, we may be grilling salmon outside, as we’re getting started a little late this year; Easter–when Friday Fish is over– isn’t til April 21. But for now, it’s still chilly around here and in many parts of the country, so try this chowder to warm you up…
cheesy crab and corn chowder
- 1 tablespoon each: salted butter and olive oil
- 2 small leeks, white/green parts only, thinly sliced
- 1 each: medium yellow onion and fennel bulb, diced
- 2 each: peeled medium carrots and celery stalks sliced into ¼-inch pieces
- Garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 ½ cups parsley, minced–divided 1 cup for cooking the chowder and ½ cup garnish
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 2 (8- ounce) bottles clam juice
- 4 cups vegetable broth (32 ounces)
- 1 cup each: diced unpeeled red potatoes, ¼-inch sliced cauliflower florets, 1/2-1-inch broccoli florets
- 4 cups milk
- ¼ cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 2 (6-ounce) cans lump crab meat (or 12 oz from fresh seafood case)
- Hot sauce
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced–garnish
- 1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar–garnish
- Oyster crackers for serving
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil for a minute; add the leeks, onions, fennel, carrots, and celery. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly; add garlic and cook for another minute. Sprinkle with a teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper along with one cup of parsley, the thyme, dill, and bay leaf; stir well. Pour in the wine and let simmer until reduced by half. Pour in clam juice, and broth; raise heat to boiling. Add potatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli and cook for about 12 minutes or until tender. Reduce heat a bit.
- Whisk the flour into the milk and pour into the pot along with the corn and crab. Shake in a few drops of hot sauce. Cook, stirring, until bubbly and thickening. If it’s not thick enough, mash the chowder a little with a potato masher. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot garnished with scallions, reserved parsley, and grated Cheddar. Pass the hot sauce and oyster crackers at the table. Whoever gets the bay leaf does the dishes.
TIP: Another way to thicken your soup, stew, or chowder is by making a buerre manie and stirring it into the pot briefly. With a dinner fork or with your fingertips, mash together 2 tablespoons of butter with 2 tablespoons of flour. Add a small portion to the simmering soup, stir briefly, and then add a bit more at a time until you’ve achieved the desired consistency. Don’t stir too long, however, or the magic effects disappear and you may be left with a floury taste.
OPTIONS: *Swap the thyme, dill, and bay for tarragon and chervil. *Stir the cheese into the pot just until melted–don’t boil! *Use Parmigiano-Reggiano instead of Cheddar *Skip the clam juice and use all vegetable broth *
People have written of fasting on Friday to commemorate this sacrifice (Jesus’ death) as early as the first century.
Technically, it’s the flesh of warmblooded animals that’s off limits — an animal “that, in a sense, sacrificed its life for us, if you will,” explains Michael Foley, an associate professor at Baylor University and author of Why Do Catholics Eat Fish On Friday?
Fish are coldblooded, so they’re considered fair game. “If you were inclined to eat a reptile on Friday,” Foley tells The Salt, “you could do that, too.”
Alas, Christendom never really developed a hankering for snake. But fish — well, they’d been associated with sacred holidays even in pre-Christian times.”
–Maria Godoy (NPR: The Salt, April 6, 2012)
Want to go out for fish in Colorado Springs on Fridays? Check out Tony’s Bar downtown; they have fish fry (walleye) during Lent aptly named, “Fish & Schlitz.” Otherwise, the menu usually sports a fine fish sandwich with any brew you’d like. If you didn’t give up alcohol, that is.
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Enjoy making a few more fish dishes this spring!
Changing things up is a helpful learning mechanism — for whatever reason,