Simple Seafood Chowder

Simple Seafood Chowder

Seafood chowder made with frozen seafood and fish and a “stock” made with oyster sauce, fish sauce, nutmeg, tarragon, garlic and water. Simple but with lots of flavour.

What’s the difference between a Cheat’s Seafood Chowder and a simple one?

So this isn’t Cheat’s Seafood Chowder; it’s a simple seafood chowder. What’s the difference? The Cheat’s Seafood Chowder is made with tinned fish and salad of cooked seafood – so it’s kind of cheating. Did I since learn how to prepare and cook live seafood? No I did not. I went to Dunnes where – years ago – I bought the seafood salad that I used to make the Cheat’s chowder – I actually made it a few times – though that was a few years ago and … they no longer stock it. It was a 150g mix of cooked seafood. And it was cooked perfectly so you’d just add it at the end, stir it in and it tasted great.

Did I mention in the original that’s where I got it? Let’s check no. I just assumed 150g of cooked seafood was readily available everywhere. And maybe it was for all I know. Anyway it’s not now. But you can buy frozen cooked seafood in Dunnes – and possibly other supermarkets? Yes, I’ve seen the ingredients for this in Supervalu as well. And Lidl and Aldi always have prawns and things, and sometimes have calamari.

Why don’t I cook live seafood?

Being honest, with bigger items like crabs or lobster, I think it would upset me. But also I insist on using cooked (or frozen) seafood because I feel safer doing so. Because if I can manage to mess up cooking a chicken as many times as I have – although I have now learned how to cook it properly – I’m not taking any chances with seafood. It’s seafood.

I love seafood by the way.

But I know my limits in the kitchen. And preparing and cooking seafood is one step beyond them. At least. Which is a pity because what gave me my love of seafood was the first time I had mussels they were picked off rocks on a beach in Connemara, brought home and cooked with garlic, parsley and butter and with a squeeze of lemon over them. Gorgeous.

So the reason I ditched the tinned fish in favour of frozen is because 1) it does taste better cooked than tinned one does and 2) the brine from the tinned salmon was used to give the soup a fishy flavour (which actually worked very well) but if you’re cooking some frozen fish and seafood you’ll get plenty of fish flavour anyway.

Frozen calamari rings, mussels, prawns and crab claws.

What else is different in this seafood chowder recipe?

I put together the ingredients before reading the recipe – which I have a tendency to do, I often don’t properly read the instructions at all. I just read the ingredients and imagine I know the instructions. Which is fair enough when remaking your own recipe. Or so you might think. You would be wrong. Always read the instructions first – apparently it helps. Apparently.

So that’s why in the ingredients photo below there is grated potato which I later changed to diced. Because that’s what the recipe calls for. Would it make that much difference? Honestly I don’t know. Probably. Possibly. … Maybe not. Anyway it’s works fine diced so … do that. If you’re making this. And you should because really – it’s very good. And you feel very nourished after a bowl of this.

Not sure if this was in the original – but it works

I am pretty sure that I added white wine to the original version of this. So although it wasn’t included in the original recipe I did add in a splash here. I also added some Dijon mustard – which I definitely didn’t add to the original. But I really like mustard and lemony tangy creamy stuff so… Also I added in just a few of the tarragon leaves from the “stock” into the soup. I was worried there wouldn’t be a strong enough taste but actually the soup really is infused with its sweet taste.

The frozen seafood worked really well – apart from the calamari rings which got a little overcooked and were a bit rubbery. I guess it might be best to add them in a few minutes later than the rest of the stuff – which actually seemed to cook fine.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t use a shop bought fish stock – I couldn’t find one. Homemade fish stock is supposed to be very good for you – but the nice thing about this recipe is you get a lovely bowl of fishy, seafoodie goodness without the smell of fish getting everywhere.

Even though this has 140ml single cream in it, along with some oil and butter I’m still going to tag it heart healthy because I feel better after a bowl of this. And I actually felt very good after the tinned fish version too. I should probably eat more fish.

Ingredients for simple seafood chowder
Ingredients for simple seafood chowder


Dice the potato. Not grate. Dice.

Simple Seafood Chowder

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Simple Seafood Chowder


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 1 potato, diced small
  • 8 button mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 small skinless, boneless salmon fillet, see note below
  • 1 small boneless smoked fish fillet see note below
  • 6 - 8 frozen calamari rings
  • 6 - 8 frozen mussels
  • 6 - 8 frozen prawns
  • 4 frozen crab claws
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce see note below
  • 1 tsp fish sauce see note below
  • 15 - 25g fresh tarragon
  • 3 garlic cloves, halved and bruised with flat side of knife
  • 1 pint hot water
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour see note below
  • 125 - 150ml single cream to taste
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard optional
  • splash of dry white wine optional
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tsbp sunflower oil
  • 1 large pat of butter
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges


  1. The oyster sauce, fish sauce, tarragon, garlic, nutmeg and hot water are used as a substitute for fish stock. In a deep bowl add the oyster sauce, fish sauce, tarragon, nutmeg and garlic. Pour over the pint of hot water. Stir till the oyster sauce is completely blended with the water. Leave to infuse while you make the rest of the soup.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan. add the butter and when it is melted add in the leek, onion, carrots, potato and mushrooms. Sprinkle in a good pinch of salt and pepper and stir around well. Cover the saucepan and leave veg to sweat for 15 minutes or until the veg has softened.
  3. Add the flour and stir around so that all the veg is covered. Keep stirring for about 2 minutes to cook the flour.
  4. If adding the wine, stir it in with the "stock". Strain the "stock" and pour bit by bit into the pan, stirring all the time. The soup should take on a sort of velvety look. Turn heat up to high and bring to the boil. Stir to avoid the base burning or sticking.
  5. Add the frozen fish and seafood. Let the soup come to a boil again then reduce the heat to simmer the fish and seafood until cooked - about 6 - 8 minutes.
  6. When the fish is cooked turn off the heat and remove from the heat. Stir in the cream. If adding the mustard mix in now. Taste and season as necessary.
  7. Serve with a wedge of lemon. And make sure each bowl gets a crab claw ;~)


The Thai brand fish sauce and oyster sauce are gluten-free.

If you're using a gluten-free flour add 2 heaped tablespoons.

You can either chop up the fish after letting them thaw a little or break up the fillets after they have been simmering for a couple of minutes.

A creamily nourishing bowl of simple seafood chowder.
A creamily nourishing bowl of simple seafood chowder.