There’s just something about fresh seafood.
Of course, it’s always better. But better yet is having the chance to grab it straight from the hands of the fisherman-farmer who harvested it.
Each Wednesday and Saturday, Chincoteague’s Chamber of Commerce holds a beautiful Farmers Market in the mornings and over the years I have happily watched it grow. Filled with artisans, local producers of vegetables and fruit, seafood and jams — even live music — this is something that I never miss on this island, often grabbing the chance to steal away on my bicycle alone (because four boys just cannot fit on one bike) to pick up the things I crave during this time of year.
Yesterday, I brought my four boys with me after our Assateague Lighthouse visit and we picked up basically anything we could get our hands on: locally grown squash, tomatoes, garlic, blueberries, peaches, beans, homemade pear-strawberry jam, honey…and of course: clams.
We went with big necks this time, and as I chatted with the Tom’s Cove vendor, I was able to get a great idea for a chowder that I plan on making today (with the leftover corn and stock from all of the clam and crab shells that we saved on Monday).
As is usual life on an island, typical creature (food) comforts aren’t always easy to come by. Not only does this make you appreciate what you have access to in your own town (the nearest Trader Joe’s is over an hour away from here), but you learn how to make due with what you have and stretch all of your ingredients a little further. Did I mention that Chincoteague has only one grocery store? And it is independently owned.
With that said, this chowder recipe is born from the need to make most of the layering flavors from scratch. Watch our video to learn how if you’re feeling extra adventurous.
If not, simple grocery store staples can stand in for what we’re making and using (clam juice in place of homemade seafood stock).
For now, just sit back and enjoy our beach-y video and remember that the next time you’re craving a seafood chowder…it’s really not as hard as you think!
SOUP Chincoteague Clam, Crab & Corn Chowder
Yield 8-10 servings
Need I say more? It's got all the good stuff: a healthy mixture of sweet blue crab and buttery oysters with softened twice-cooked kernels of golden corn.
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
4 ears corn, cooked and kernels sliced off
2 potatoes, skin on and cubed into a small dice
2 cups corn cooking liquid
2 quarts seafood stock
50 clams, steamed and removed from shells (or just buy pre-packaged)
1 pkg picked crab meat
1 cup milk or half and half
salt and pepper to taste
- Saute onion, garlic and celery in butter for 5 minutes.
- Add corn, potatoes, corn stock, seafood stock and bring to a boil. Cook for 15 minutes.
- While soup is simmering, bring a separate pot of water to a boil and add clams once water is rolling.
- Cover and cook until clams open.
- Remove from heat, strain out clams (reserving liquid) and pull clams from their shells once cool.
- To finish soup, add picked clams and milk or half and half, taste and season as needed.
- Garnish with a couple spoonfuls of crab meat and serve hot.