Rush-Hour Gourmet

20080501_inq_rush01z-a

I've eaten better chowders on Martha's Vineyard. But this quick fix has drawn raves as a weekday dinner.

Shrimp and Fish Chowder

Makes 6 servings

2 baking potatoes, pierced in several places with a fork

1 each, trimmed, coarsely chopped: onion, celery rib, green pepper

4 slices bacon

2 cloves garlic

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper

2 4-ounce bottles clam juice

1/2 cup whole milk

1 can (12 ounces) unsweetened low-fat evaporated milk

2 white fish fillets, cut into chunks

1/2 pound peeled, deveined raw or frozen shrimp, defrosted, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup half-and-half

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon Asian hot-chili sauce, such as sambal oelek, optional

1. Cook the potatoes in a microwave on high until just fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Peel; cut into chunks. Set aside. Meanwhile, process the onion, celery and green pepper in a food processor until coarsely chopped; set aside. Cook the bacon in a skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

2. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the skillet. Add the reserved onion, celery and pepper; cook over medium-high heat until onions soften, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in the potatoes, bay leaves, fish sauce, seafood seasoning, salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until well mixed, about 1 minute.

3. Add the clam juice and both kinds of milk; heat just to a boil. Add the fish chunks and shrimp; lower heat to a simmer. Stir in the half-and-half. Cover; cook until fish is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, stir in crumbled bacon, fresh parsley and chili sauce, if using.

Per serving: 264 calories, 29 percent of calories from fat, 8 grams fat, 3 grams saturated fat, 111 milligrams cholesterol, 22 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 884 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.