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