South Coast Portuguese Fish Chowder
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 tablespoon)
- 2 medium onions (14 ounces), cut into 3/4-inch dice
- 1 green bell pepper (6 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 pounds Yukon Gold, Maine, PEI, or other all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/3 inch thick
- 4 cups fish stock, chicken stock, or water (as a last resort)
- 2 cups canned whole tomatoes in juice (from a 28-ounce can), cut into 1/2-inch diced (measured with their juice)
- 6 ounces spicy chorico (dry, spicy Portuguese sausage) or andouille sausage, casing removed, sliced 14 inch thick
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds skinless silver hake, cod, haddock, or bass fillets, pinbones removed
- 10 sprigs fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems finely chopped (1/4 cup)
- For garnish:
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
Heat a 4- to 6-quart heavy pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and bay leaves. As soon as the bay leaves turn brown, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 30 seconds or until it is golden. Add the onions, bell pepper, and allspice and saute, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until the onions and peppers are softened but not brown.
Add the potatoes and stock; if the stock doesn't cover the potatoes, add just enough water to cover them. Turn up the heat, bring to a boil, cover, and cook the potatoes vigorously for about 10 minutes, until they are soft on the outside but still firm in the center.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the tomatoes and sausage, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season the mixture assertively with salt and pepper (you want to almost overseason the chowder at this point, to avoid having to stir it much once the fish is added).
Add the whole fillets and cook for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat, gently stir in the cilantro, and allow the chowder to sit for 10 minutes. (The fish will finish cooking during this time.) If you are not serving the chowder within the hour, let it cool a bit, then refrigerate; cover the chowder after it has chilled completely. Otherwise, let it sit for up to an hour at room temperature, allowing the flavors to meld.
When ready to serve, reheat the chowder over low heat; don't let it boil. Use a slotted spoon to mold the chunks of hake, the chorico, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes in the center of large soup plates or shallow bowls, and ladle the savory tomato broth over. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.
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