Pippa's seafood chowder

We tend to eat more seafood in the summer than the winter but this recipe by Pippa Mattei works well for cold winter evenings and is full of all the nutrition of the Mediterranean sea. 

Serves 2


  • 6 large fresh prawns
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150ml dry white wine
  • 200ml fish stock (or a fish cube)
  • 1 small fennel bulb (about 140g) halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 large potato, about 200g
  • 1 orange
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ tsp harissa paste
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (kunserva)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • Handful mussels or clams
  • 100g white fish, skin and bones removed and cut into chunks 
  • 100g scallops, shelled and halved few thyme leaves

To serve

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • A crusty Maltese hobza or homemade Irish soda bread


If scallops are not available, use 200g white fish


  1. Twist the heads from the prawns, then peel away the legs and shells, but leave the tails intact. Pull out any dark coloured veins on the back.
  2. Fry the shells in 1 tbsp oil for 5 mins until dark pink and golden in patches. 
  3. Add the wine and boil down by two thirds, then pour in the stock.
  4. Strain into a jug, discarding the shells.
  5. Heat the rest of the oil in a deep frying pan or casserole. 
  6. Add the fennel, onion and garlic, season, then cover and cook gently for 10 mins until softened. 
  7. Peel the potato and cut into 2cm chunks. 
  8. Put into a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 mins until almost tender. Drain in a colander.
  9. Peel a strip of zest from the orange. Put the zest, star anise, bay leaf and ½ tsp harissa into the pan. 
  10. Fry gently gently, uncovered, for 5-10 mins, until the vegetables are soft, sweet and golden.
  11. Stir in the tomato puree, cook for 2 mins, then add the tomatoes and stock. 
  12. Simmer for 10 mins until the sauce thickens slightly. Season to taste. (The sauce can be made ahead, then reheated later in the day)
  13. Scrub the mussels or clams and pull away any stringy ‘beards’. Any that are open should be tapped sharply on the worktop – if they don’t close after a few seconds, discard them.
  14. Reheat the sauce if necessary, then stir the potato, chunks of fish and prawns very gently into the stew. Bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for 3 mins.  
  15. Scatter the mussels or clams over the stew, then cover and cook for 2 mins more or until the shells have opened wide. Discard any that remain closed. 
  16. The chunks of fish should flake easily and the prawns should be pink through. Scatter with thyme leaves.
  17. To make the quick rouille, stir the rest of the harissa through the mayonnaise.
  18. Serve the chowder in bowls, topped with spoonfuls of the rouille, which will melt into the sauce and enrich it.
  19. The crusty Maltese bread (or soda bread) will mop up the juices.

This recipe first appeared on Gourmet Today, October, 2016.

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