This is Jan’s birthday week and around this house birthday celebrations tend to get stretched out for a week. Her birthday is in the middle of a busy week, Wednesday, so her main feast will be this Sunday. I was planning on making her favorite, corn chowder with crayfish.
A key ingredient to this dish is the crayfish and boil that I buy from Crawdaddies. While they claim to be Cajun, I never had anything like this when I lived in Louisiana. The spicing for their boil comes more from Vietnam than the bayou. It comes in mild, medium, hot, and fire—we once bought the hot and it raised blisters. While we can tolerate a fair amount of heat, I usually get mild or medium.
Unfortunately, crayfish are apparently “out of season” at this time. This is not a governmental season, but a natural one. Depending on the weather and water temperature crayfish simply become less abundant somewhere between July and November.
I decided to substitute langoustine for the crayfish and add some siracha to make up for the Crawdaddy’s spicy boil. Chowder calls for oyster crackers. It was quick work to whip up a batch.
Jan’s second favorite seafood is mussels. I thought about simply steaming them and tossing them into the pot, but half of the fun is wrestling them out of the shells. I decided to make them as a second dish.
Karl’s Corn Chowder with Langoustine
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 stalks celery, diced
2 leeks, white parts only, sliced finely
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large Russet potato, finely diced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. summer savory
¼ tsp. dried marjoram
¼ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
32 oz. low sodium seafood stock
2 cups fresh corn niblets (corn kernels cut from the cob)
12 oz. langoustine
1 cup half-and-half
1 tsp. siracha, to taste
1. Melt butter over a medium high heat in a large soup pot.
2. Sauté the onions with the salt until they are translucent, about five minutes.
3. Add the celery and leeks. Sauté for 5-8 more minutes until the vegetables are softened.
4. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the chopped garlic to the hole in the center.
5. Sauté the garlic until it is fragrant, about one minute.
6. Add the potatoes and then stir in the vegetables.
7. Add the bay leaf, summer savory, marjoram, pepper and most of the stock.
Tip: Reserve a cup of the stock to cool the hot pot and rinse out the blender after processing the vegetables.
8. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook until the vegetables are very soft, 15-20 minutes.
9. Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly.
10. Remove the bay leaf.
11. Transfer the soup to a standing blender and briefly process until smooth.
Tip: If you prefer a more rustic chunky soup, use a potato masher or immersion blender to partial break up the vegetables.
12. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the corn.
13. Bring the soup up to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, until the corn is nearly fully cooked.
14. Add the langoustine and simmer for five minutes more.
15. Stir in the cream and siracha.
16. Continue heating, stirring, until the soup has returned to heat, 2-4 minutes.
Tip: Once you add the cream you want to bring the soup up to serving temperature, but you do not want the pot to come to a boil.
17. Serve in individual bowls, with a garnish of a sprinkle of paprika and a few fresh oyster crackers.
Note: Put the siracha on the table for those who like it spicier.