This chowder is inspired by Caldo Santo, a fish and coconut soup eaten during lent in Puerto Rico.
It's light and hearty all at once. The most important thing is that you use waxy potatoes— red bliss, fingerlings, or any other small potatoes.
This recipe serves 2
3 Tablespoons butter
1" piece of ginger
3 cups of water or fish stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 can coconut milk
2 lbs. cod
12-16 small potatoes, with larger ones, like red bliss, you will need less with smaller ones more
1 bunch of rainbow chard
1 large shallot
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Maldon salt (or any other finishing salt you like)
gochugaru (Korean pepper flakes), optional
To make the chowder:
Clean and slice the leeks. Start by cutting off the nubby root end and most of the green stalk— a bit of the lower part of the green, the one closer to the white part, is okay. Slice the leeks in half lengthwise. Clean the leeks by running each half over cold water while flipping the layers like the pages of a book. Make sure to wash off any grit between each layer.
Slice each leek half into thin slices. Peel the garlic and slice it as thin as possible. Peel and grate the ginger.
Cut the cod roughly into 2x2 " pieces. Cut any thin parts slightly longer— about 2 1/2" lengthwise. Set the fish aside on a counter, and let it loose some of the refrigerator chill.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a dutch oven or similar pot. Add the leeks and cook them until they start to get wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the ginger and cook for one more minute.
Pour the water into the pot, then add the salt and bay leaf. Bring the pot to a boil then lower to a simmer.
Rinse the potatoes and cut them. The potato will dictate the shape. Cut large fingerlings into thick-ish coins, tiny potatoes in half, or leave them whole if they are really tiny, larger red bliss can be sliced in half or quartered. Just make sure the shapes are as even in size as possible, so everything cooks uniformly.
Add the potatoes and cook until tender. This will depend on the size of your potato. Start checking after 6 minutes.
In the meantime, peel the shallot, cut it in half, then thinly slice each half. Clean, de-rib and slice the chard. Slice the ribs as tiny as possible, then stack the leaves and slice them as thin as possible.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Once it starts to shimmer add the shallot. Cook it until it begins to caramelize.
While the shallot cooks check. the potatoes. If they are tender add the coconut milk, then the pieces of cod. Everything in the pot should be just covered by the liquid. If not add water one 1/2 cup at a time until it is. Cook the chowder until the fish is opaque— about 5 minutes.
Return to the sauté pan and add the chard stems. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the leaves and 1/4 cup of water. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the greens and cook until everything is wilted. Set aside.
To serve— pile a substantial amount of cod and potatoes in the center of a bowl. Ladle coconut broth around it. Sprinkle the broth with Maldon salt and Korean pepper, if using, then place some sautéed chard on top of the cod. The idea is that as you start eating, the greens will get mixed in with the rest of the. chowder. Cooking the greens separately brings another layer of flavor and texture.