An oyster chowder is not exactly a common chowder. It’s like a dear friend with a lavish lifestyle. You love this dear friend but you know you’re going to have to shell out some cash every time you hang out. However, on occasion, it’s totally worth it.
Unlike the bold flavors of clam chowder, oyster chowder is a little more muted albeit nonetheless delicious. So as not to overpower the flavor of the oysters, I use butter instead of bacon, leeks instead of onions, fennel instead of celery, and some lemon zest. As for the spinach, seek out baby spinach if possible. It’s more tender and has sweeter leaves than regular spinach.
From Rhode Island to Maine—Get 80 locally inspired recipes that honor the traditions of America’s northeast.
All that said, the real key is the broth. You want a pronounced oyster flavor to come through. This means you have to shuck the oysters and save every little drop of that beautiful briny liquor that resides inside the shells. Yes, it’s a little more work but that liquor will infuse the chowder with more oyster flavor than the oyster themselves. Click here for a short video demo of how to shuck oysters.
Getting a pronounced oyster flavor can be a little tricky. For this recipe, we want a full quart of broth but the oyster liquor itself will only yield about a 1/2 to 1 cup. Additional liquid needs to be added which can easily dilute the oyster liquor. Also, the salinity and volume of oyster liquor can be highly variable depending on the type of oysters you purchase and the time of year they’re harvested.
My biggest piece of advice is to simply adjust things accordingly to your desired taste. Start out by adding your reserved oyster liquor to fish stock or water to make 2 cups total. Taste it and then you’ll get a sense of what type of additional liquid you should add. I like to keep a strong briny flavor and will most often add 1-2 more cups of clam juice. You might choose fish stock or water instead. It’s totally up to you. Trust your taste buds!
For more types of chowder, including recipes, check out the links below the recipe.
Unlike the bold flavors of a clam chowder, an oyster chowder is a little more muted albeit nonetheless delicious. Some of the differences are butter instead of bacon, leeks instead of onions, fennel instead of celery and lemon zest.
Shuck the oysters and reserve the liquor. You should get about 1/2 – 1 cup.Take the liquor and add it to fish stock or water to make 2 cups total. Taste it and add 1-2 more cups of fish stock, water or clam broth to make 3-4 cups of broth. Set the broth aside.
Maine Clam Chowder
Rhode Island Clam Chowder
Manhattan Clam Chowder
Portuguese Clam Chowder
Long Island Clam Chowder
Lobster Corn Chowder
Mussel Chowder with Fennel
Scallop Chowder with Mushrooms
Boston Fish Chowder
Portuguese Fish Chowder
Craig Fear is the creator of Fearless Eating and the author of three books, The 30-Day Heartburn Solution, Fearless Broths and Soups and The Thai Soup Secret. After years helping clients with digestive issues, Craig decided to pursue writing full-time. He intends to write many more books on broths and soups from around the world! Click here to learn more about Craig.