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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Seared Salmon Chowder

Today for day 16 of Soup Month 2012, we wanted to make something extra special for our 16th Wedding Anniversary.  Wow, 16 whole years. Time does fly!

Anyway, for this special dinner my sous chef suggested we make something with salmon since he knows how much I love it.  So, after combining several favorite ingredients and trying a few new tricks with our panini press, we created a Seared Salmon Chowder that was amazing! 

I love to serve fish on top of a bowl of soup.  We did a few other versions of this in the past with Catfish Chowder and Swai Chowder, and both were yummy. When you spoon through the fish and into the chowder, all of those great flavors combine in each spoonful. So yummy!

The first step was to create a soup base.  For this I used some basic ingredients, onion, celery and Yukon gold potatoes, added some milk, corn and clam juice, then just a touch of lobster base.  Just the flavor I was looking for!

Next, I wanted to serve a piece of salmon on top of the chowder. My dilemma was that I wanted the salmon to have a seared finish.  Poaching the fish in the broth was a possibility, but I really like a seared, crispy edge on my salmon, with just a little pink inside. So, I pulled out the panini press, coated the fish with olive oil, salt and pepper, and gave it a quick sear.  (I still was not sure this would work. Can you panini press fish?? Maybe? )  It was a complete success!  The fish had a slightly crispy outside, grill lines and all, and the inside was moist and tender. Perfect.

This was an excellent meal and came together very quickly with prep time of 15 minutes and cook time of less than 30 minutes.  If you can find it at your local market or order it, the addition of the lobster base is a real key to this chowder, adding a nice background flavor.  Plus, I found a new purpose for my panini press.  It saved a lot of time versus pan-searing, no turning needed!  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Butter
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1 stalk  Celery, finely chopped
6 medium  Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
1-3/4 cups  Milk
2  8-oz bottles  Clam Juice
1 can  Creamed Corn
1/2 cup  Half and Half
1 tsp  Lobster Base
1/2 tsp  Dried Dill
1/4 cup  White Wine
Kosher Salt and White Pepper to Taste
1-1/2 lb  Salmon, cut into 5 pieces, skin removed

In a large soup pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion and celery and saute 5 minutes until softened.  Add the potatoes, stir and cook for 5 minutes until the potatoes are just slightly browned on the edges.

Add the milk and clam juice to the pot, cover the pot and reduce eat to a simmer.  Cook for about 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Prepare the panini press and set on the Sear setting to heat up.  Place salmon pieces on a glass plate, coat with olive oil on both sides and season lightly with salt and pepper.  When the panini press is hot, place the fish on the grill, close the top and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until the fish is nicely seared and cooked to your preference.  (It's ok to serve the fish a bit on the rare side.  You can actually see how fast the fish is cooking from the sides of the grill.)

Add the corn, half and half, lobster base, dill, and white wine to the chowder.  Cook for 5 minutes longer, seasoning with salt and white pepper to taste.  Ladle chowder into bowls and gently place a piece of salmon on top of the chowder.

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