Rockfish Chowder

Rockfish Chowder

  • Prep time

    15 minutes

  • Cook time

    30 minutes

  • Course

    Main

  • Skill level

    Beginner

  • Season

    Fall, Winter

  • Serves

    4 to 6
Chef’s notes

I’ve been corrected a number of times for using the term “rockfish” to describe striped sea bass. I will also make note that none of these people were from the Chesapeake Bay area. Here, striped sea bass are called rockfish, namely for their tendency to congregate on rocky structures. Regardless of what you call them, they are one of the most important game fish in America, and through their tumultuous recent history, they’ve become a symbol of conservation failure, success, and then decline. They're also extremely tasty.

These anadromous fish are hard-fighting and excellent table fare. Their flesh is semi-firm with large flakes, very similar to a redfish. Because they're not extremely delicate, they hold up to just about any cooking method—grilled, baked, fried, steamed, or stewed. Chowder is a staple preparation for rockfish in my kitchen. It’s a rich and filling dish that is easy to make and is a perfect warm meal after running a boat around the bay in the fall.

You can make this chowder with any semi-firm or firm fish, and you can substitute the smoked goose for any salty smoked game meat, country ham, or bacon. However, I tend to shy away from using bacon in this chowder, because it makes the whole dish taste like bacon. It’s not a bad thing, but the striped bass is subtle enough in flavor that I’d rather not mask it.

Preparation is straightforward: get some color on the smoked meat, sweat the veggies, cook it all in flour, then add stock, aromatics, and the fish. I like to sear the fish separately and add it towards the end, to finish, which adds some texture and color to the overall dish. It also helps to keep the fish from falling completely apart in the chowder. If using a denser fish such as swordfish or monkfish, add a few additional minutes of cooking time for the fish to tenderize.

striped bass chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rockfish, cubed
  • ½ cup smoked goose, cubed (substitute smoked venison, country ham, bacon)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 to 3 cups fish stock (substitute chicken or other light stock)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • ½ tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • Minced parsley and paprika to garnish

Also works with

Any semi-firm or firm-fleshed fish

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add a little neutral oil and the smoked goose. Cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add in butter, garlic, onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until onions and garlic are fragrant.
  2. Add in flour and stir. Everything should get thick and sticky. Deglaze with sherry and stir. Next add in stock, cream, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper, and sear in a pan. Try to brown each side of the cubes. You don’t need to cook the fish all the way through; just get some caramelization on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are almost done, add in the fish, oregano, and celery seed. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes and fish are done.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, and garnish with paprika and fresh parsley.
Chef’s notes

I’ve been corrected a number of times for using the term “rockfish” to describe striped sea bass. I will also make note that none of these people were from the Chesapeake Bay area. Here, striped sea bass are called rockfish, namely for their tendency to congregate on rocky structures. Regardless of what you call them, they are one of the most important game fish in America, and through their tumultuous recent history, they’ve become a symbol of conservation failure, success, and then decline. They're also extremely tasty.

These anadromous fish are hard-fighting and excellent table fare. Their flesh is semi-firm with large flakes, very similar to a redfish. Because they're not extremely delicate, they hold up to just about any cooking method—grilled, baked, fried, steamed, or stewed. Chowder is a staple preparation for rockfish in my kitchen. It’s a rich and filling dish that is easy to make and is a perfect warm meal after running a boat around the bay in the fall.

You can make this chowder with any semi-firm or firm fish, and you can substitute the smoked goose for any salty smoked game meat, country ham, or bacon. However, I tend to shy away from using bacon in this chowder, because it makes the whole dish taste like bacon. It’s not a bad thing, but the striped bass is subtle enough in flavor that I’d rather not mask it.

Preparation is straightforward: get some color on the smoked meat, sweat the veggies, cook it all in flour, then add stock, aromatics, and the fish. I like to sear the fish separately and add it towards the end, to finish, which adds some texture and color to the overall dish. It also helps to keep the fish from falling completely apart in the chowder. If using a denser fish such as swordfish or monkfish, add a few additional minutes of cooking time for the fish to tenderize.

striped bass chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rockfish, cubed
  • ½ cup smoked goose, cubed (substitute smoked venison, country ham, bacon)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 to 3 cups fish stock (substitute chicken or other light stock)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • ½ tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • Minced parsley and paprika to garnish

Also works with

Any semi-firm or firm-fleshed fish

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add a little neutral oil and the smoked goose. Cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add in butter, garlic, onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until onions and garlic are fragrant.
  2. Add in flour and stir. Everything should get thick and sticky. Deglaze with sherry and stir. Next add in stock, cream, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper, and sear in a pan. Try to brown each side of the cubes. You don’t need to cook the fish all the way through; just get some caramelization on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are almost done, add in the fish, oregano, and celery seed. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes and fish are done.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, and garnish with paprika and fresh parsley.

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Rockfish Chowder

Recipe by: Wade Truong
Rockfish Chowder
  • Prep time

    15 minutes

  • Cook time

    30 minutes

  • Course

    Main

  • Skill level

    Beginner

  • Season

    Fall, Winter

  • Serves

    4 to 6
Chef’s notes

I’ve been corrected a number of times for using the term “rockfish” to describe striped sea bass. I will also make note that none of these people were from the Chesapeake Bay area. Here, striped sea bass are called rockfish, namely for their tendency to congregate on rocky structures. Regardless of what you call them, they are one of the most important game fish in America, and through their tumultuous recent history, they’ve become a symbol of conservation failure, success, and then decline. They're also extremely tasty.

These anadromous fish are hard-fighting and excellent table fare. Their flesh is semi-firm with large flakes, very similar to a redfish. Because they're not extremely delicate, they hold up to just about any cooking method—grilled, baked, fried, steamed, or stewed. Chowder is a staple preparation for rockfish in my kitchen. It’s a rich and filling dish that is easy to make and is a perfect warm meal after running a boat around the bay in the fall.

You can make this chowder with any semi-firm or firm fish, and you can substitute the smoked goose for any salty smoked game meat, country ham, or bacon. However, I tend to shy away from using bacon in this chowder, because it makes the whole dish taste like bacon. It’s not a bad thing, but the striped bass is subtle enough in flavor that I’d rather not mask it.

Preparation is straightforward: get some color on the smoked meat, sweat the veggies, cook it all in flour, then add stock, aromatics, and the fish. I like to sear the fish separately and add it towards the end, to finish, which adds some texture and color to the overall dish. It also helps to keep the fish from falling completely apart in the chowder. If using a denser fish such as swordfish or monkfish, add a few additional minutes of cooking time for the fish to tenderize.

striped bass chowder

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. rockfish, cubed
  • ½ cup smoked goose, cubed (substitute smoked venison, country ham, bacon)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 2 tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 to 3 cups fish stock (substitute chicken or other light stock)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 to 3 cups Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • ½ tbsp. fresh oregano, minced
  • ½ tsp. celery seed
  • Minced parsley and paprika to garnish

Also works with

Any semi-firm or firm-fleshed fish

Preparation

  1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add a little neutral oil and the smoked goose. Cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until lightly browned. Add in butter, garlic, onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until onions and garlic are fragrant.
  2. Add in flour and stir. Everything should get thick and sticky. Deglaze with sherry and stir. Next add in stock, cream, and potatoes. Bring to a low simmer, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until potatoes are almost fork tender.
  3. Meanwhile, season the fish with salt and pepper, and sear in a pan. Try to brown each side of the cubes. You don’t need to cook the fish all the way through; just get some caramelization on the outside. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are almost done, add in the fish, oregano, and celery seed. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the potatoes and fish are done.
  5. Serve with crusty bread, and garnish with paprika and fresh parsley.