I hadn't eaten clam chowder for quite some time, so I was pleased to get a bowl as a taster at Sean's Panoroma restaurant on North Bondi beach on a lazy Saturday lunchtime. Sean's food had a simple and sophisticated feel about it, deep fried mud crab was memorable, and the chowder had that magical comforting sense with a tasty corn base and good plump clams. There are several ways to make a chowder, from classics like clam, crab and corn and so on. You can make them as humble or as sophisticated as you wish and tailor make your own variations.
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 small chilli, seeded and finely diced
3 thick rashers of rind less streaky bacon, cut into rough 1cm chunks
A good knob of butter
1 small 250g can of sweetcorn
1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 large potato, peeled and cut into a rough 1cm dice
2tbsp chopped parsley
2-3tbsp double cream
300-400g small clams such as palourde or surf clams, washed under cold water
Gently cook the onion, garlic, chilli and bacon in the butter in a covered pan for 2-3 minutes without colouring. Add the sweetcorn and vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the potato and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove about 200ml of the liquid and a few bits from the soup and blend in a liquidiser until smooth, then return to the pan.
Add the clams, parsley and double cream, season and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, stirring until the clams have opened (and remember to discard any that remain unopened). Serve immediately.Reuse content