It´s Seafood Time

After some sunny days, Melbourne weather has been a bit chilly again. Of course, it is nothing compared with the freezing cold back in July. But this weather is still perfect for thick and creamy chowder…

I have promised to cook seafood chowder to Mr. B for a longest time (since last year I think). But I don´t have the motivation to make it at all. For me, the normal chowder can be a bit too thick and creamy. I much prefer something lighter, which I have found flipping through a brilliant cookbook by Charlie Trotter.

This particular recipe is largely based on vegetables. The creaminess and thickness come mainly from the roasted fennel puree not starch from potatoes or flour. Even before adding seafood, the chowder itself tastes wonderful. The vegetable is really the key to provide flavours here. And that is what I really love.

You may notice that my chowder is not traditionally white… The color here comes from the smoked paprika I substitute for bacon, and the roasted fennel. Nevertheless, I think it still looks quite appetizing. And well, we eat food for the taste first, right? 😛

If you want to adapt this recipe for vegetarian, simply omit the seafood and use rich vegetable stock instead of prawn stock. I bet the non-seafood version will also taste wonderful, too.

I am sending this chowder, which is full of vegetables, to Katiez who is hosting Weekend Herb Blogging this week. WHB is going strong and we are all looking forward to its second birthday celebration! For more info, please pay a visit to its founder´s blog, Kalyn´s Kitchen.

And now, time for the recipe…

Mussel, Prawn and Fennel Chowder

Adapted from Charlie Trotter´s recipe

Ingredients (for generous 4 serves)

Fennel Puree

2 fennel bulbs, top trimmed

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 cup milk

Salt and pepper


1 tbsp smoked paprika

½ cup small-diced onion

2 cups small-dices peeled potatoes

1 cup small-diced celery

1 cup small-dices leek, white part only

1 cup small-diced fennel

Fennel puree (above)

2/3 to 1 cup heavy cream

30 mussels, scrubbed and debearded

20 medium prawns

1 lemon, to serve

Salt and pepper

Coarsely chopped fennel fronds, to garnish


  1. For the fennel puree: Wrap the fennel with all the herbs in foil. Place in 180C oven and roast for 2 hours. Let cool and discard the herbs. Chop the fennel into chunks, puree in food processor with milk (add a bit more water if necessary). Pass through a sieve. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  2. Preparing the prawn stock: peeled and de-vein the prawn. Save all the head and shell. Place 1 tbp oil in a saucepan, sautee the shell and head until pink. Add in 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Simmer for 15-20 mins to get the stock. Sieve the stock and discard the shell.
  3. Sautee the onion with some oil in a large saucepan. Add in 1 tbsp smoked paprika and potatoes over medium high heat for 5 mins. Lower heat to medium, add carrot, celery, leek and fennel. Cook for 5 mins. Add the fennel puree and heavy cream, cook for 5 mins longer. Then, add the prawn stock, mussel and prawn. Simmer for 5-7 mins or until prawns are just cooked. Discard any unopened mussels. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the chowder in warm bowls, garnish with fennel fronds. Accompany with lemon juice and fresh bread.

Some of my readers cannot view images from Flickr. You can view the photos for this post following these three links.

46 Responses to It´s Seafood Time

  1. Asha says:

    Roasted Fennel sounds so good!! Looks delicious.Great for a chilly day.I don’t even remember how it feels to be in cold! It’s so hot here!:))

  2. Susan says:

    Oh, what stunning photos these are! You know, I just made green mussels with fennel and anise flavored liquer on fresh pasta this weekend. My parents were visiting, and my dad adores mussels. He loved the flavor, so I’ll have to try your recipe next time. He’ll be thrilled!

  3. Callipygia says:

    Gorgeous mussels, this is an interesting spin on chowder. I like to sneak in a little pernod into my fish stews… another way to warm up!

  4. Aimée says:

    Mmm, lucky Mr.B! You must have access to great seafood down there. This looks divine.

  5. tigerfish says:

    This is the most luxurious chowder! The seafood even come in their shells -mussels with shells, and prawns with the tail-ends. As whole as it is! 😀

  6. Ellie says:

    Girl! Seriously – who cares about whether it is the traditional white when it looks and sounds this damn good!!! Arrrrgh, and just imagine how awesome your cooking will become from next year on!

  7. Pravs says:

    Beautiful pics and tempting chowder. Love mussels and chowder..will try this recipe out.

  8. bee says:

    gosh, i can count the pores in the slice of bread. lovely pic.

  9. Belinda says:

    Anh, your photography is so beautifully done, I just love the way you compose everything. And I love the color of your chowder! I think its much more appetizing than the typical whitish based chowders. :-)

  10. Kalyn says:

    Really beautiful photos, and this looks like a wonderful recipe. I think Charlie Trotter is quite brilliant. Everything about this sounds so good!

  11. Anh says:

    Asha, we have started to have wamer days. Soon we will have hot day, too…

  12. Nora B. says:

    Anh, that looks VERY appetizing to me. More so than the traditional ones because I like that the creaminess is coming from the fennel. The broth sounds so flavoursome. Mr B must have though that this was worth waiting a year for! ;-)

  13. Pradeep Jeganathan says:

    Thank you for visiting me. you bolg is beautiful. i will be a frequent visitor!

  14. Truffle says:

    I think that must be my favourite time because I love seafood. Adore the use of fennel with the shellfish. Just delicious!

  15. Sophie says:

    This sounds delicious Anh! Love the idea of the roasted fennel puree – it must go really well with the fish flavours. And so beautifully presented!

  16. Lydia says:

    This looks absolutely beautiful. But I must say that I find Charlie Trotter’s recipes overly fussy most of the time. I’d much rather eat the food in his restaurant then make one of his recipes myself. So good for you for taking it on!

  17. indosungod says:

    Anh, a sea food lover’s delight. Fennel sauce sounds wonderful! Does it have the same aroma as the fennel seeds?

  18. Mishmash ! says:

    Anh the composition of your photographs is superb….even better than some of the magazine stuff. I have tasted chowder but not with roasted fennel puree…atlst I did not get that taste :P

  19. katiez says:

    I love the sound of your chowder. I think fennel goes so well with seafood and to use it as a thickener… Well Done!

  20. valentinA says:

    wow, really, you’re photos are amazing. I’ve always felt unlucky being unable to eat seafood & now, I feel even more unlucky!

  21. valentinA says:

    oh but at least I can feast my eyes;)

  22. Cynthia says:

    Who cares about the colour when there’s shrimp and mussel to be had. I wish I could have some Anh.

  23. countrygirlcityliving says:

    Beautiful presentation! This dish makes me want to take a spoon to the screen!

  24. sher says:

    Here is what I did. I decided I had to go see what Anh is doing on her blog. So, I did–and when the blog loaded I saw the picture and I gasped. Well, I often gasp when I see your photos. This was a really big gasp, because the dish looks so wonderful! What a recipe!

  25. Lia says:

    Anh those photo really amazing! i love the way u have presented. Well done, all made me mouthwatering ;)

  26. Anh says:

    Nora, I am on a seafood and duck diet now. 😀 very bad I know. need more veg!

  27. Kelly Mahoney says:

    Looks delicious! I just got back from vacation and had a wonderful dish with crabmeat, scallops and shrimp with marinara sauce over fettucini. It was amazing and I can’t wait to blog about it on Monday!

  28. Arfi Binsted says:

    I love your photos, Anh. They support the delicious-sound of the food!!

  29. Peabody says:

    Spectacular chowder.

  30. Precious Moments says:

    oh why oh why you live so far, oh why oh why must you? always make me hungry.

  31. Tartelette says:

    That’s my kind of soup right now…makes me long for colder days!

  32. JennDZ - The Leftover Queen says:

    That sounds absolutely delectable! I love mussles and Roberto adores fennel – so I think this is a must make recipe for us! Thanks! I love your addition of papriks, I think the color of the broth is wonderful and very appetizing!

  33. Paz says:

    My oh, my! This looks sooo good!

  34. winedeb says:

    This looks absolutely lovely! Living by the sea, I am able to get fresh seafood quite easily. Therefore any soup, stew, chowder, or a piece of fresh fish for grilling are on my list for a satisfying dinner. Yours sounds very comforting. Such handsome photos also!!!!

  35. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Hi Anh,

  36. Sylvia says:

    The weather in Melbourne is quite similar at here, It was frozen in July ,but those days are warm ,but today is cloudy and rainy.Your photos are amazing too and the chowder is a inspiration for my dinner.

  37. Figs Olives Wine says:

    Just breathtaking! I love the idea of thickening with a fennel purée. The chowder is still comforting and warm, but without the saturated heaviness that makes me shy away from most chowders. Beautiful recipe and photos!

  38. Cris says:

    Really stunning pictures! Is that the no-knead bread right beside the plate?

  39. lynn says:

    Your soup looks wonderful – just the right dish for a chilly evening. I’ll have to remember this for winter.

  40. Sig says:

    Wow, that is soooo beautiful Anh… who cares about the color..urs look much more wonderful than traditional chowder… :)

  41. David Hall says:

    Absolutely delicious, I love fennel and I love shellfish. Your photos are amazing by the way!

  42. Amy says:

    With fall approaching here, I love your posts about your springtime. They’re so beautiful!

  43. Andaliman says:

    should try this chowder someday. thank you

  44. Mike says:

    The chowder looks delicious. For some reason, I grew up with an aversion to seafood, but now, I’m branching out again and experimenting with seafood dishes. This looks like something I’ll have to try!

  45. Andy says:

    Wow this looks amazing! I just found your blog and it is fabulous. I will definitely be back.

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