“The food was plain, but very good; there were loaves of crusty bread still warm from the ovens, crocks of fresh-churned butter, honey from the septry’s hives, and a thick stew of crabs, mussels, and at least three different kinds of fish. Septon Meribald and Ser Hyle drank the mead the brothers made, and pronounced it excellent, whilst she and Podrick contented themselves with more sweet cider.” -A Feast for Crows
Modern Fish Chowder
For this dish I opted for a hearty New England style fish chowder. I threw together a couple of different recipes, tweaked them to suit, and this is the incredibly tasty result!
One bite of this modern stew will make you forget the effort that went into creating it. This is the earthly realization of platonic fish chowder. We asked the guests at our dinner table to give their thoughts, but only received grunts of approval and moaned delight. Imagine yourself eating this meal in a tranquil sept on an island, savoring the hearty broth in peace while chaos rages around you. Imagine that, because eating this stew can transport you out of your everyday life.
Part of the challenge of food blogging is making the photos show just how delicious the dish is, and that’s often done with atmosphere. The building in the photo is a perfect stand-in for the Sept from the books. In reality, it’s a gutted and abandoned church near where my parents used to live, in West Boyleston, MA. I drove by the place once, and immediately knew I would have to use it for a photo. I must have been quite a sight as I made my way down the embankment, folding table, dishware, food, and camera all teetering precariously. But the photo made it all worth it, and I got a great picnic lunch, to boot!
Modern Fish Stew Recipe
- 1.5 oz salt pork or thick cut bacon, diced
- 1 lb potatoes (about 2 medium), chopped into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 1.5 lb fish (we used salmon, haddock, and cod), about 2 fish or 4 fillets, cut into 1″ chunks
- 2 c water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ~1/2-1 cup crab meat (imitation is fine, and cheaper!)
- around a dozen mussels (ours were precooked)
Place 1/2 lb fish (about 1 fillet) in a pot with 2 c cold water. Bring to boil and boil 10 minutes.
While that is cooking, fry up the salt pork over medium heat. Once the bits are beginning to turn crispy and brown, add the diced potato. Cook 5 minutes over medium-high, stirring frequently. By now the fish broth should be done, so add it and the fish to the potato, then spread the remaining cubed fish atop this mess. Let this burble for about 10 minutes on medium-high.
At this point, if your pan won’t hold an additional 3 cups of liquid, transfer everything to a larger pot. Add heavy cream, evaporated milk, salt & pepper, crab meat, and whole mussels still in the shell. Bring to just under a boil, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and simmer about an hour.
To serve, ladle into bowls and garnish with additional pepper. To really round out the meal, serve it with the other original components from the book: crusty fresh bread with butter and honey, mead, and cider.