BERMUDA FISH CHOWDER WITH RUM AND SHERRY PEPPER SAUCE

BERMUDA FISH CHOWDER WITH RUM AND SHERRY PEPPER SAUCE (for six to eight)

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Considered Bermuda’s national dish, this spicy, tomato-based soup is believed to have been developed by British colonizers of the island (officially a British territory in the north Atlantic) in the 17th century.  Sherry pepper sauce, preferably Outerbridges, and black rum, Gosling’s Black Seal preferred, are the expected accompaniments.

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 leek (white and pale green parts only), chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 celery rib, chopped

1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups fish stock or bottled clam juice

5 cups water

2-1/4 pound mixed white fish fillets such as cod, grouper, tilefish and snapper, skin and bones removed

¼ cup tomato paste

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon whole allspice, tied in a cheesecloth bag

½ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste

3 tablespoons cornstarch stirred together with 3 tablespoons water

12 small hard-shell clams such as littlenecks, scrubbed

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

2 to 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

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¼ cup dark rum (Gosling’s Black Seal preferred), or to taste

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2 tablespoons sherry pepper sauce (Outerbridge’s Original preferred)


  1. Cook onion, bell pepper, leek, carrots, celery, chopped tomato and garlic in butter in a 6 quart wide heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in stock and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer briskly, uncovered, 20 minutes.
  1. Stir in fish, tomato paste, bay leaf, cheesecloth bag of allspice, thyme, hot pepper sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 20 minutes (fish will break up), then restir cornstarch mixture and stir into chowder.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  1. Stir in clams, shrimp, Worcestershire sauce and rum and gently simmer 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let chowder stand, covered, 1 hour.  Gently return to a simmer and stir in the sherry peppers sauce.

 

from Gourmet Magazine, October, 2000

NOTE: If you can’t find Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Pepper Sauce, here is a recipe from the 11th edition of Bermudian Cookery, a collection of recipes from members of the Bermuda Junior Service League. “This should be made well ahead so that it may sit for several weeks in order to obtain that zing all Bermudians love. It is very simple – just fill a jar or decanter half full with red bird peppers and fill up with sherry. Keep adding sherry as needed. Add several drops to fish chowder”.

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