Maine Fish Chowder recipe

July 19, 2023
The Best Maine “Haddock” Fish

Adapted from The Art of Eating no. 69 fishFNART

George Bates

The fish chowder served in most public eating places, even here in Down East Maine where they ought to know better, is so bad that I never order it unless I’m suffering an attack of the mean blues. Why I eat restaurant-style fish chowder in such situations is simple. It gives me something specific on which to focus a bilious attention.

What I mean by “restaurant-style fish chowder” is: fish chowder with the color and consistency of slightly liquefied library paste, gluey enough so a spoon will almost stand up in it, made of an insufficiently cooked white sauce and riddled with questionable bits of seafood, a few slivers of old-tasting potato, and fragments of disagreeably sweet onion. This, my daughter the chef tells me, is more often than not made of something called “chowder base, ” sold by restaurant-supply outfits to be mixed at the point of service with water — or with milk in more high-end establishments. This is the only chowder many unfortunates will ever know.

And so it was, at the end of a long and extremely cold winter of many discontents, that I found myself down on the docks in Portland, Maine, on the first true day of spring, looking at the offerings in a brightly painted fish shop called “Free Range Fish.” I was attracted by the hand-lettered sandwich board on the sidewalk advertising wild mussels. I’m not a huge fan of mussels, but the fact that these were wild was seductive. You almost never see wild mussels anymore unless you harvest them yourself — not easy given that so much of our shore frontage has been rendered off-limits by development. I seem to suffer from a genetic tic that responds uncritically to the word “wild” when associated with foodstuffs. Wild game, wild mushrooms, wild asparagus, wild fiddleheads, wild mussels — it doesn’t make much difference what it is, the mere fact that it’s wild (hence, in a certain sense, free) calls to something in my stingy Yankee blood.

Mediterranean Fish Recipe Inspired by Cook With April
Mediterranean Fish Recipe Inspired by Cook With April
Boston Chowder Main Ingredients
Boston Chowder Main Ingredients
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