Mikes mussel and bacon chowder

By 28th July 2016 October 7th, 2019 No Comments

Seafood chowder is one of those soups you might order at a reputable restaurant but be aware at your random roadside dinner! Reason being, a good seafood chowder has to be made with fresh seafood.

No packet mix.
No 5 day old seafood sitting at the back of you fridge.
No, just chuck in everything and hope for the best.

Seafood chowder was one of the first soups I ever made as a commis chef and we made it fresh everyday. IT WAS AMAZING!

No recipe is set in stone, experiment. Different seafood, meats (bacon, chorizo) vegetables (corn, kumara, fennel) but no tomatoes otherwise you now have a bouillabaisse.

They say Seafood chowder first came about on board ships and it was to thicken not with a roux but with Hardtack. What is hardtack ? I hear you say.

Hardtack (or hard tack) is a simple type of biscuit or cracker, made from flour, water, and sometimes salt. Inexpensive and long-lasting, it was and is used for sustenance in the absence of perishable foods, commonly during long sea voyages, land migrations, and military campaigns. The name derives from the British sailor slang for food, “tack”. It is known by other names such as brewis (possibly a cognate with “brose”), cabin bread, pilot bread, sea biscuit, sea bread (as rations for sailors), ship’s biscuit, or ship biscuit, or pejoratively as “dog biscuits”, “molar breakers”, “sheet iron”, “tooth dullers”, or “worm castles”. Australian and New Zealand military personnel knew them with some sarcasm as ANZAC wafers (not to be confused with Anzac biscuit).

So on with the recipe…

Mikes mussel and bacon chowder


  • Leeks
  • Double smoked bacon
  • Mussels
  • Flour
  • Dry sherry or wine
  • Potatoes
  • Whole grain mustard
  • Butter
  • Parsley

Heat a heavy based fry pan and throw in mussels that have had the beards removed and cleaned, drop in 1 cup of wine and 3 cups of water, cover quickly with a tight lid.

Steam for two minutes or until open and remove mussels from shell and chop. Sieving the cooking liquid.

Clean the pan and add two Tbsp of butter and throw in 5 rashers of diced bacon and cook on a medium heat until golden then add 3 sticks of cleaned and sliced leek whites. Turn the heat down and continue to cook slowly for 2 minutes with the lid on to soften the leeks.

Add in 3 Tbsp of flour and then slowly stir in the mussel cooking liquid, simmer on low for 3 minutes.

Add back the chopped mussels, 2 Tbsp of whole grain mustard and a handful of parsley chopped. Season with salt and white pepper.

Serve with Crusty Bread!