Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Whiskey Smoked Salmon Chowder

I’m from the Pacific Northwest. I love salmon—especially wild salmon caught by my Uncle Jim and made with his “secret recipe” marinade. I love chowder—especially with a side of clam strips and chips from Ivar’s down on the waterfront in Seattle. Naturally this recipe for Whiskey Smoked Salmon Chowder called out to me when I saw it. I made it one autumn night at my sister’s when my parents were in town. Then, about a week ago, with the weather perfectly pre-spring chilly, I started to crave it again. But March decided to antagonize me. The temperature turned, and all of a sudden it was July-hot—hot enough for tank tops, shorts, irritation with other drivers on the road, and salads for dinner. Definitely too hot for chowder. But I’m going to post the recipe anyway and have faith that the fog will roll in and the cold will return before the true heat wave of summer in LA begins.

Whiskey Smoked Salmon Chowder
adapted from Gourmet or Food & Wine (I shouldn’t have cut this recipe out without noting the source!)


• 1/4 cup butter
• 2 onions, finely chopped
• 6 celery stalks, finely chopped
• Pinch saffron threads, optional
• 8 small red or white potatoes peeled and diced (2-3 cups)
• 1/2 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
• 2 cups milk
• 2 8-oz. bottles clam juice
• 2-1/2 cups corn kernels
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2-4 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 teaspoon lobster base, optional
• 1 pound smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
• Juice and zest of 1 small lemon
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
• 2 oz. Jack Daniel's whiskey
• Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot and sauté the onions, celery, and saffron over medium heat until softened.

2. Add the potatoes and fennel and sauté briefly before pouring in the milk and clam juice. Cover, and let the mixture simmer on medium heat until potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

3. Add the corn, cream, tomato paste, and lobster base.

4. Cook 5 minutes more, add the salmon, lemon juice, lemon zest, dill, and whiskey. Season with salt and pepper

Notes on ingredients:

Saffron: To me this is not optional. Saffron gives chowder a wonderfully buttery flavor. It can be purchased inexpensively at Cost Plus/World Market.

Lobster paste: I was too lazy to go out and hunt this down, and the chowder tasted just fine without it.

Tomato paste: I don’t like the taste of tomato paste. It reminds me of cheap pizza from my childhood, so I didn’t use it. Again, the chowder was great without it.

Salmon: I was on a budget when I made this so I used only half a pound. I think this kept the chowder from being too rich. I plan to try a full pound next time just to see the difference.

Photo by Julie Fay Ashborn


The Ashborns said...

Having been the lucky recipient of this (and many other of Kim's recipes) I can truly attest to its deliciousness!

Max said...

Just made this tonight, and it was fantastic! I did the same thing you did, but I'm 99% sure it came from Sunset. Anyway, thanks for publishing it here.

Kim said...

Hi Max, It is a great recipe, isn't it? Love your pie blog. Do you ever listen to KCRW's Good Food? I believe she does a broadcast about pie every week. I'm from a pie family so will be following your blog closely.