I’m in the midst of reading the most marvelous book.
I think the fact that I love it might mean I’m an escapist.
Because I adore books that transport me to other times and places, with rules and obstacles that are unlike those in my own world, this book really does it for me. No, it’s not HP or good ol’ LOTR – as we nerds might say… less self-respecting nerds, though it may be – but appropriately, I think, for this recipe-blogger, Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires.
This one I highly recommend to my fellow food-philes. I’m only two-thirds of the way through, but so far, I have been transported to New York, a place I have yet to visit, and to a plethora – a literal plethora – of delicious restaurants in The City. I can, like, smell the food there.
That’s not it, though. Ruth Reichl, a nationally acclaimed restaurant critic who worked for The New York Times for many years, has not only taken me out to dinner at four-star-fancy restaurants, she has opened doors to otherworldly cuisine found only in places a journalistic sleuth could discover. AND. She often goes in disguise.
I’m having so much fun seeing life through a restaurant critic’s eyes, who, in turn, is looking through the eyes of her doppelgangers as she discovers where the best food is really at… that I have subconsciously created a dish out of this experience.
Long story short… well, maybe it’s too late for that. But at least now I can show you how this fusion dish of spiced-up seafood stew has a place in my world.
I began putting various ingredients together because I knew they would taste good, and I ended up with something similar to a recipe I found in a Martha Stewart cookbook once, under the title “Manhattan Clam Chowder.” The name plus the various melting-pot of ingredients called to mind the variety of restaurants that Ruth visits within one melting-pot of a city.
The taste of this soup, though. Just the right amount of vegetable-sweet and roasted-chili-spicy; a little crunch with a little smooth; and a nice variety of delicious seafood – oh, and bacon! – can make a truly good-for-the-soul meal. Not to mention good for you.
Either way, this Manhattan Fish Chowder is like a getaway for me. Hand me my book, my soup, and my high heels. Time to escape for a moment!
Manhattan Fish Chowder
Serves 6-8 as a main dish
2 tilapia fillets
3 cups frozen large or 2 cups frozen small scallops (should have weighed them – didn’t – feel free to estimate)
2 cups, roughly, large raw shrimp (again, feel free to sub smaller shrimp – perhaps at around 1 cup)
2 T. oil, canola or olive
Dry seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, chili powder, cumin, cayenne powder if desired
2 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery sticks, diced
½ medium red onion, diced
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 roasted hatch chili pepper, de-stemmed but not de-seeded, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans organic diced tomatoes, undrained
About 1 cup fresh tomatoes, chopped - I used my homegrown cherry tomatoes, but any kind works!
About 2 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets
1 large handful cilantro, minced
1 whole stalk green onions, diced
Cooked + crisped bacon or bacon substitute. I actually used Morning Star veggie bacon – I love this as a garnish or in soups!
Cook tilapia fillets, shrimp, and scallops according to package instructions. If they are frozen, go with the package instructions on this one and either thaw first and cook later or cook at whatever time it says in the oven. I know, I’m not being the most helpful here… I would just rather you didn’t blame me if your fillets are different than mine and require different handling.
Either way, be sure to stop their cooking just short of doneness to avoid overcooking later in the simmering soup. Keep warm under aluminum foil for near future use.
In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, heat 2 T. oil – after a few minutes of heating, add carrots, celery, and onion with some salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add minced garlic and hatch chili and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add canned and chopped tomatoes and the rest of the seasonings and let the hard veggies simmer on low heat with the lid on until nearly fork tender, 10 minutes or so.
Taste the soup – try not to burn yourself – and adjust seasoning if need be.
Add broccoli florets, and cook about 3 minutes.
Finally, add all seafood, cilantro, and green onions, and cook until broccoli is done and all veggies are fork-tender, about 3 more minutes.
Stir in bacon and serve immediately!