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Springtime Pike Chowder

springtime pike chowder

This creamy chowder is the perfect thing to warm you up after a cool spring day, fishing for pike on the water. 

I use a lot of spring foraged wild food in this chowder, which makes it taste excellent, but you could replace those things with store bought alternatives if you can’t find them where you live. Asparagus, fresh herbs, and portobello mushrooms would do the trick!

To fillet your pike with no bones, follow this guide.

I like to make a stock out of the pike bones and head, which I use to make the soup. Simply simmer the bones and head (gills removed) softly for 20 minutes, then strain well. 

  • Prep Time30 min
  • Cook Time1 hr 30 min
  • Total Time2 hr
  • Yield4-6 servings
  • 1 cup (195g) wild rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups (300g) fiddleheads
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 1 leek, sliced (white and light green parts only)
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 cup (100g) cubed pheasant back or morel mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) dry vermouth or white wine
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon (2g) spruce salt
  • 2 cups (500ml) fish stock or water
  • 1.5lbs (680g) boneless, skinless pike fillets
  • 1 cup (250ml) half and half cream
  • 1 tablespoon (8g) cornstarch + 1 teaspoon (5ml) water
  • 1 cup (100g) spruce tips
  • Vegetable oil or lard/fat
  • 1 cup (120g) all purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup (90g) panko breadcrumbs
  • Lemon juice

Preparation

1

Add 3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, and the wild rice to a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1 hour (or cook per package directions). Let sit 15 minutes before opening the pot. Drain off any leftover water. 

Set the rice aside. 

2

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat.

Add the leek, celery, mushrooms, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the vermouth or white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring everything and scraping the bottom of the pan until the wine mostly dissipates. 

Add a few grinds of black pepper, the spruce salt, and the fish stock. 

Bring to a gentle simmer and let cook for 10 minutes. 

3

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil and add the fiddleheads. 

Cook for 5 minutes (15 minutes to follow USDA and Health Canada Guidelines), drain and discard the water. 

4

Chop 1lb (454g) of the pike into bite-sized chunks, reserving the other 1/2lb for the garnish (I like to use the side fillets for the chowder and the top loin fillets for the fried garnish).

Add the fiddleheads, the chopped pike, cooked wild rice, and cream and bring to a gentle simmer. 

In a small bowl or jar, make a slurry with the cornstarch and water by mixing them together with a fork, then add the slurry to the chowder. 

Once the chowder thickens, turn off the heat.

Add the spruce tips (saving a few for garnish). 

Taste and add more spruce salt if need be. 

5

Bring several inches of vegetable oil or lard to 350°F in a deep skillet. 

Set up 3 plates, one with the flour on it, one with the beaten egg, and one with the breadcrumbs. 

Cut the reserved pike fillets into batons or smallish rectangles, then dip them first in the flour, then in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs.

Fry in the hot oil until golden on the outside and flaky on the inside, 3-5 minutes. 

6

To serve, ladle the chowder into bowls, perch two pieces of fried pike on top, and garnish with reserved spruce tips. Enjoy!

springtime pike chowder

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