The Nigerian seafood chowder is light, mildly spicy, creamy and very comforting. The beauty of this chowder lies in the clean taste of the fresh seafood. Though similar to pepper soup, it is not overwhelmed by lots of herbs and spices.
I was grocery shopping the other day and saw packs of seafood mix for chowder. There are so many different types of chowder, New England, Manhattan, Bermuda chowder etc. so I thought, it’s high time Nigeria officially got its own chowder.
Chowder is typically a soup made with a mix of different types of seafood with milk or cream included. In the Nigerian seafood chowder, no dairy is included, rather it is slightly thickened with the potato or yam added to it.
Some include vegetables, and some kind of meat, the most famous being the clam chowder. For a vegetarian version, you can replace the seafood with corn and other root vegetables.
My seafood mix contained chunks of haddock, Atlantic salmon, scallops and shrimp, but any combination of seafood can be used. You can use a mix of different types fish, in which case, use mainly firm-fleshed fish also go easy on oily fish because the flavour is really strong. Also, Mgbe (oysters), Ngolo (water snails), squid (calamari), octopus, Ofingo (clams), shrimps, crab, mussels, prawns, even snails.
To prepare Nigerian Seafood Chowder
250g mixed seafood chunks 1 small fresh tomato 1 medium carrot 1 medium irish potato or 1 small slice of yam 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 small onion (1/3 cup, chopped) 1 clove garlic, crushed 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 1 scotch bonnet (fresh pepper) 2 seasoning cubes 2 teaspoons tomato puree (tomato paste) 4 or 5 scent leaves, chopped salt
Clean and cut seafood, set aside.
Remove seeds from tomato and chop, scrape carrot and cut into chunks.
Peel potato or yam and cut into cubes.
Place a dry pot over medium flame. Add vegetable oil, when hot, add onions and carrot, fry but do not colour.
When onion is soft, add garlic, ginger and finely chopped scotch bonnet.
When the aroma of the garlic and ginger can be perceived, add water, stock cubes and tomato puree.
Boil for 10 minutes.
Add potato or yam cubes.
If using dry scent leaves like I did, add at this point.
When potato has softened, add chopped tomato, seafood, fresh scent leaves and salt.
Do not be too light handed on the salt because the potato and seafood will pick up the salt from the broth leaving it bland, just taste as you add.
Cook for 5 minutes until seafood is ready.
Mash one or two pieces of potato when you add the seafood to thicken the chowder to taste.
Serve as a bowl of delicious hot soup with a drink or accompanied by agidi (eko).
For a hearty meal, serve with a bowl of rice, boiled yam or potato etc.
If you enjoyed my Nigerian seafood chowder, you will also enjoy my Nigerian Dryfish pepper soup, Catfish pepper soup (Point and Kill), Nigerian crispy fried whitebait fish (Yoryor) with Herb butter sauce.
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