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Clam and Scampi Chowder – with couscous, no cream

Sometimes tt’s good to make complaints, but not often. Since my public ranting about the lack of seafood in Turkey, I’ve had more chances to eat seafood, I mean rare seafood. Scampi!

scampi-eggs-2

One evening Mr.O came home with bags full of all kinds of unusual seafood that I hadn’t seen or eaten here; big flathead type fish, squid and scampi with eggs. It was too much to finish in one meal.

First, I boiled the fish and boned it, then ate it with lovely homemade garlic aioli. I reserved the liquid in the pot and processed it to make fish stock. The liquid was gelatinised overnight in the fridge and it became easier to spread it in a thin layer in a plastic bag, which is an alternative way to store liquid stock. Homemade demi-glace is stored in ice cube makers and chicken stock is stored in one-cup portion in plastic bags. How many people are bothered to do this nowadays even if it’s so easy?

fish-stock-4

The next day I used the leftover fish to make bouillabaisse style fish soup with the stock and scampis, however, since I didn’t have enough seafood such as crab, mussels, etc., the taste wasn’t as rich as it should be and the sauce wasn’t authentic without saffron.

scampi-eggs-1

The fresh scampis with eggs and garlic mustard sauce were scrumptious and I was dying eating them since it’d been a long time. Scampis are so tasty, tastier than lobster in my opinion. Scampis don’t need any sauce as they are so rich, sweet and tasty on their own.

Intrigued and encouraged by the delightful gastronomic experience, Mr.O brought home more surprise and rare catches. This time it was CLAM!

clam-chowder

He also brought another type of scampi with dark brown colour and a big head, but we didn’t like them and couldn’t gobble them down like we did with the previous scampis. So I shelled them to save them for another dish.

What can I do with the precious clams? I could have simply steamed them with white wine and eaten them plain on their own, however, I took one step further and made this nostalgic dish, Seafood Chowder! Without much seafood, it will be simply clam chowder, though.

clam-chowder-2

I had plenty of it back in New Zealand. Oh…the rich, creamy bowl with crusty bread….I can almost taste it in the mouth right now. Another special treat from New Zealand I miss a lot is big green mussels cooked in coconut and lemongrass. Oh…my mouth is watering, thinking about it.

I can’t get the green mussels but at least I can have clams. I tried to reproduce the delicious chowder before being stopped by two obsticles, first, no bacon, and second, no cream. Well, then, let’s tweak it for the Mediterranean taste!

clam-couscous

My chowder will have no cream, but will have butter and fresh milk, and it won’t have bacon, either, but smoked salmon will give the rich and smoky flavour. I’m glad I froze some when I had it. I’ve never frozen so much food for emergency and survival as I’ve here in Turkey.

Seeing couscous which I hardly cook, I thought it might be interesting to add some in place of crouton, which I’d planned to make. I’d even planned to crispen the cooked couscous in the oven, but I thought I was going too far and stopped myself.

clam-chowder-1

Though the recipe was tweaked a little, I tried my best to stay loyal to the core of chowder, the creaminess. To be honest, adding couscous was just a fancy gesture, so you can skip that, however, it made the soup more filling and also helped to thicken it. Mr.O liked it, partly because the couscous made the soup less foreign, a touch of Turkishness.

clam-chowder-3

I am smacking my lips while writing about it right now. It was one satisfyingly delicious meal I’d had for a long time. Mr.O has been broadcasting via Facebook about what strange things we eat. He filmed my hands shelling the scampis the night before. He didn’t hesitate even for a second to give two thumps up for this soup, which was far more interesting than Turkish style fish soup. So excited, he invited people for a scampi and pasta night on Saturday. So my gourmand adventure continues….

Clam and Scampi Chowder – no cream, no bacon

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

2-3 dozen clams
5-6 cooked scampi, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
1 carrot, cut in small cubes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme or Provençal herb mix
30g butter
1 Tbsp flour
500ml(2 cups) fish stock
300ml(1.5 cups) milk
a few whole black peppercorns
2 tsp mustard
fresh parsley
1 cup couscous (cooked, rinsed and buttered – to reduce starch)
1 cup of white wine – to cook clams (the liquid will be reserved for soup)

Steps:

1. Prepare the clams: clean the clams and soak them in cold water for 20 mins. Discard the ones that are open or broken.
2. Put the clams in a pot over high heat and pour white wine and cook with the lid on for 5 mins. During the cooking, shake the pot around once. When clams are cooked, shell them except a few for decoration and put them aside and reserve the liquid in a separate bowl.
3. In a pan, sautee chopped onions, celery, carrot and bay leaves with butter. Stir in flour for 1-2 mins before adding fish stock and the clam liquid.
4. When it starts to boil, lower the heat to low, add a few peppercorns and gently simmer for 10 mins.
5. Stir in the milk and season with salt and mustard.
6. Finally add the clams and scampis and simmer for 1-2 more mins.
7. Add minced garlic and chopped parsley. Check the seasoning again – alternatively, you can cook the garlic with onions in step 3.
8. Serve immediately in a bowl, garnished with couscous and crusty bread

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