Red Snapper Chowder

            The soup worked.  I was kind of stressed about it.  After I made such a dramatic point about the fish stock with my glassy-eyed John Dory photo, I knew some people wanted to know how the actual soup came off.  And to tell you the truth, I had to really think about it.  It has been a couple of years now since I’ve had the pleasure of a serving of the snapper chowder at Stock Market in Granville Island Market.  I actually scrolled through the reviews of the restaurant looking for descriptors and found a few helpful ones.  In the end though, I had to go deeply into my taste memory and what I clearly remembered is as follows:  It was a little chunky.  It had a base flavor of oysters and bay leaves.  There was a ton of celery with some actual stringy bits that didn’t puree out.  And it was completely nondairy.  Here is how I built the soup to go with the stock.
Ingredients
1 ½ – 2 yellow onions, chopped
A bundle of celery about 3” in diameter, including leaves, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1-2 leeks, chopped
3-5 bay leaves
1 potato, peeled and cubed
2 liters fish stock
¼ cup Arborio rice
2-3 fish fillets, diced into ½ inch cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
            Sauté all of the vegetables, except the potato, in olive oil until soft, but not browned.  Cook the potato in a small saucepan, with a little water, until tender.  Puree vegetables in a food processor or with an emersion blender.  Leave it a little chunky.  Add solids to fish stock and heat.
            Stir in Arborio rice and simmer until rice is soft.
            Add the fish to the heated stock and simmer, without boiling, until fish is cooked, but tender.
            Season with salt and pepper.
Serves 8-10
The Rosemary, Scallion Focaccia Bread is a David Tanis reprint.  I have already written about it at Dinner at Diane’s.  It’s always great, but remember, you have to start it one day ahead of when you want to eat it.

Fish Stock

 If I could do anything I want to this weekend… anything at all, I would go to Vancouver for the day and wander around Granville Island Market.  This False Creekside maze is the creative, culinary hub of the city that is still my standard as the greatest city in the world.  Sydney? Barcelona? Munich?  They’re all great, but you cannot beat that fresh, west, native feeling of Vancouver, which at the same time is Manhattan hip and San Francisco grounded.    With all of the big bounty of the Frazier Valley and the Pacific Ocean at hand, Granville Market serves as a food terminal moving it all along to kitchens and tables.  There’s the produce, strawberries stacked in almost 12-inch high pyramids, and the seafood, the cheeses and pastas and almost every beautiful food item you could desire.  So I dawdle through the sectors of the market, totally wide-eyed, my mind spinning with the options of the meals I could cook.  And suddenly, I’m starving.  Hunger comes upon me instantaneously and I have to eat that second.  I always go to the same place; it’s called The Stock Market.    This is a kiosk that sells vacuum-packed liters of their made-fresh-daily soups, fresh soup stocks, pasta sauces, dressings, and pestos.  You know, this is where you really need to start your shopping and then work backward, picking up meat, or pasta, or vegetables to complete the dish.  But how does this help my hunger issue?  They sell containers of their daily soup topped with a big hunk of Rosemary focaccia bread and they always seem to have my favorite:  red snapper chowder.  I never considered that anyone else in the world had noticed the red snapper chowder at The Stock Market on Granville Island, but me, yet when I researched it, there seems to be an entire cult following for this soup.

            I found a beautiful St. Pierre, which is a Mediterranean species of John Dory, at a local market this week.  I’ll admit that he’s not the most handsome fish, but I knew when I saw it that the post-fillet carcass of this fish was bound for fish soup stock, which is what is absolutely required if you’re going to make any kind of fish soup.  This formula will fill a 1-gallon stock pot. The ingredient amounts are suggestions to give you an idea of the proportions so you can, of course, adjust them.
Fish Stock
Ingredients: All well-washed and chopped in large pieces
Onions, 2 large
Celery, 3 stalks, including lots of leaves
Leeks, 1 large or 2-3 small
Carrots, 2-3 large
Fresh garlic, 1 clove, peeled and smashed
Fresh parsley, about 1 cup
Thyme, 6 healthy sprigs
Bay leaves, 3-5
Cloves, 2
Black peppercorns, 20 whole
Sea salt , a little for now.  You can adjust the salt in your finished dish.
Non-oily white fish bones (halibut, cod, red snapper or sole), rinsed and kept in large pieces
Cover with filtered water and low-simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
When cool, strain the stock and compost the solids.  Freeze or use the stock in soups, sauces, and braises.I plan to follow through with the snapper chowder and Rosemary focaccia bread this weekend and if all goes well, I’ll post it here.   Otherwise, I’ve got a gold mine of stock in my freezer for my next endeavor.