Friday, October 17, 2014

Bay Scallop Chowder – Looks Good?

Every once in a while I make a dish that no matter how great it tastes, I just can’t get past how it looks, and that was the case with this very easy, incredibly delicious scallop chowder. 

The main culprit was the caramelization from the bacon and onions, which provided great flavor, but the hue they imparted, along with the pale green celery, and yellow potatoes, made things kind of dingy.

I could have browned the scallops first, and gone even further to the dark side, but scallops this small and sweet need to be eaten as soon as they’re cooked, and by the time we reheated them in the soup, they’d be hard, dry, and disappointing.

Maybe it’s just me. I hope that’s the case here, otherwise we’re going to need to brainstorm some kind of make-over, because this bowl of chowder is too good not to make. If you do make it, and want a thicker, more traditional chowder base, simply mash some of your potatoes into the mixture.

A roux can also be used to tighten things up, but since scallops are so rich, I prefer the lighter texture seen herein. So whether you figure out a way to pretty this up or not, I hope you give it a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 portions of Bay Scallop Chowder:
2 tsp olive oil
2 slices bacon
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (8-oz) bottle clam juice
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 red Frenso chili, fine dice
1/2 cup cream
1 cup cubed Yukon gold potatoes
freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
salt to taste
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 pound bay scallops
1 tbsp fresh tarragon


Julie said...

Are you kidding?? I took one look at that soup photo and wanted to immediately stick a spoon through my Ipad. It looks delicious to me!

Christina Estes said...

I think if you'd served it up in a bowl that wasn't white, you would've been fine with the appearance. I still think it looks lovely though.

Daniel Bottoms said...

Frankly, i gotta say on my screen it looks pretty good... like chowder really! You did a corn chowder way back when that looked way stranger than this. The little specs of red from that chili i think really made the dish look very delicious.

Maybe smoked ham instead of bacon would not let the broth get so dark? Thanks for recipe!

T Gent said...

Relax Chef. Even though I'd like us to be related, you can believe me when I say that looks delicious. Maybe not super traditionally chowder-y, but just more interesting for it. Especially the chillis. Those look SO enticing.

T Gent said...

Relax Chef. Even though I'd like us to be related, you can believe me when I say that looks delicious. Maybe not super traditionally chowder-y, but just more interesting for it. Especially the chillis. Those look SO enticing.

Ali Phillips said...

I thought it looked wonderful :) Christina has a point. Maybe a dark/rich colored bowl might look better for an off white sort of chowder. It is a good idea for next time to try out :)

Laura H said...

I agree with Christina completely...and actually, Ishe beat me to commenting exactly as she perhaps a darker bowl...i.e., dark blue or black...and regardless, the chowder still looks lovely!

Angus Goodson said...

I also like the look, but maybe seeing through the screen doesn't give me a good sense of the color. Maybe adding some golden brown fried croutons would dress it up for you?

CWR032 said...

I can think of a couple minor changes that might help it visually: using a Russet potato (Don't they stay a whiter color when cooked?) and making a roux before adding the clam stock. The things about it that were visually unappealing were the contrasting yellowish potatoes next to the scallops, and seeing the tarragon through the liquid.

Ouncer said...

Agree with using a bowl thats not white, especially if said bowl is made of bread. Thatll make it look less offcolor :P

B Fun said...

Dear Chef John
Put it in a red plate and stop worrying about the color. Perfect looking food is like a perfect looking boob job. Ughhh

Chef John said...

Thanks for all the great ideas!

A colored bowl is a great idea, as is topping with some croutons!

Grant Brink said...

I agree with you, Chef John, in that there's something off about this dish. The broth, for a chowder, looks a little runny and the tarragon looks like an afterthought (I know it's not). I'm thinking a thicker broth so the tarragon can hide and suspend throughout. Then, when plated, a tad more tarragon on top and a sprinkle of cayenne. What do you think? Side note: scallops were the right choice for this dish!

Bear said...

I grew up with chowder, and it looks just fine and delicious to me.

Question: could seafood stock be substituted for the clam juice successfully?

Chris K. said...

Just use blue potatoes instead of Yukon golds. People will be so freaked out they won't even notice the broth.

Stephen Owens said...

Another interesting idea would be Peruvian purple potatoes.

John Wikberg said...

Hey Chef J. Long time reader first time poster.

The Dish was delicious the lemony flavors together with the slight spice from the chili really worked out well with the scallops.

// John

C R Jordan said...

Chef John, I also have a comment about your dinginess...though I saw two posters made the same observation that I was going to make. This dish deserves perhaps a blue bowl.

Designer from Japan

Scoelione said...

Chef John I think a few minor changes can give you a more traditional chowder color. First when rendering the bacon use water to start it about 2 tbsp and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and deglaze any brown with the chicken stock you used after you pour off the bacon fat. Reserve the deglazing liquid.then sweat the vegetables in the reserved bacon fat, use a red skined peeled potato instead of a Yukon gold. And try a few dashes of tobasco or siracha in place of the Fresno chile.

Scoelione said...

Chef try using 2 tablespoons of water to render the bacon then remove the bacon sweat the vegetables in the bacon fat also use peeled red skin potatoes instead of Yukon Gold and use hot Tabasco sauce or sriracha stead of the chopped Fresno Chile to avoid the dingy color. Also instead of reducing the cream to thicken the soup making the soup by crushing some potatoes and add the cream at the very end and don't cook it as much.

Howard44024 said...

Personally as soon as I saw the photo I thought it looked drop dead gorgeous and potentially better than sex.