Bermuda Fish Chowder is a hearty seafood soup, the national dish of Bermuda. It's loaded with complex flavours, lots of vegetables, and chunks of tender white fish. A splash of dark rum and a few shakes of hot pepper sauce give it that extra Bermudian touch.
This month for our Eat the World recipe challenge we're exploring the tropical islands of Bermuda. This little archipelago consists of 7 main islands (connected by bridges) and 170 named islets and rocks. It is actually not considered part of the Caribbean, but is a self-governing British Overseas Territory located in the western North Atlantic Ocean. Bermuda is known for its spectacular pink sand beaches, perfect year-round weather, and amazing food.
Not surprisingly, seafood plays a big role in Bermudian cuisine, with tuna, wahoo, and spiny lobster being some of the most popular local catches. Bermuda fish chowder is one of the quintessential offerings found on every menu - it's considered the national dish of Bermuda. This long-simmered, hearty chowder has as many variations as there are cooks on the islands, with each family priding themself on their own fiercely-guarded recipe, usually passed on through the generations. Every year in Bermuda there is a contest to see which restaurant or local cook makes the best Bermuda Fish Chowder, and every year a different version is the winner.
What Makes Bermuda Fish Chowder Special?
The Bermudian fish chowder is different than chowders common in mainland North America in that it is not cream-based and has only a small amount of tomato in it. It is much lighter than sauces thickened with cream. The broth is made mainly from fish stock, although islanders will often also use beef broth in making this soup. Bermudian fish chowder is slightly thickened, but not too thick, and the pieces of vegetables and seafood in the chowder need to be uniformly small. The chowder is made spicy with the addition of the local Bermudian hot sauce made of sherry, spices and fermented pimento peppers (known as 'sherry peppers sauce') and spiked with the island's dark rum (usually Goslings Black Seal Rum). I couldn't locate the traditional Outerbridges Sherry Peppers Sauce, so I substituted with Jamaican Pickapeppa Sauce, but your favourite hot sauce passed at the table will be a good sustitute to get that fiery heat into the soup.
I chose not to cook my chowder as long as some recipes stated, finding that the flavours were nicely melded even in a shorter time and the fish kept its shape. In many of the longer-simmered traditional versions, the fish cooks until it falls apart, making the soup more fine-textured. However, you can choose to cook it as long as you like.
Bermuda Fish Chowder is known for its rich brown broth (with only a small amount of tomato added) redolent of island spices such as thyme and allspice. It's loaded with an abundance of finely chopped onions, carrots, celery, and green pepper. Dark rum and sherry peppers hot sauce are added in to the soup, and then set onto the table so everyone can add more of each to their taste.
Rich and complex, Bermuda fish chowder will transport you to the islands. The palm trees sway in the breezes, the waves crash, and you are sitting at an outdoor table under a beach grass awning, feasting on a bowl of this soup. Fresh fish brought in on the morning's boats has been loving simmered with local island produce and spices. And a shot of dark rum is just the thing to toast another glorious day in the sun.
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Check out the other wonderful Bermudian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Codfish Cakes
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Bermuda Triangle Cocktail
Sugarlovespices: Bermuda Rum Cake with pecans (from scratch)
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Bermuda’s Signature Cocktail: Dark ‘N’ Stormy
Sneha’s Recipe: Bermuda Johnny Bread
Kitchen Frau: Bermuda Fish Chowder
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Bermuda Fish Chowder
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 large onions, finely chopped ~2 cups (250gms)
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped ~1 cup (140gms)
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped ~1 cup (150gms)
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 medium potatoes, peeled & finely diced ~2 cups (320gms)
- ⅓ cup (5½ tablespoons) tomato paste ½ of a 156ml/5.5oz can
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce for gluten-free use 1 tablespoon g.f. soy sauce + 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Peppers Sauce) or other favourite hot sauce
- 4 cups (1 litre) beef broth
- 4 cups (1 litre) fish stock or clam juice or more beef broth
- 2 lbs. (900gms) red snapper fillets or other firm-fleshed white fish, like cod, halibut, haddock, tilapia, etc.
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch + ¼ cup (60ml) water stirred together
- ¼ cup (60ml) dark rum preferably Goslings Bermudian Black Seal Rum
- more dark rum
- more Bermudian hot pepper sauce or other favourite hot sauce
- chopped fresh parsley
- Dice all vegetables finely (¼-inch/.7 cm cubes). Mince the garlic. Peel and cube the potatoes into small dice about the size of peas. Cut the fish into cubes about ½-inch/1cm large (this works really well if the fish is still partially frozen).
- In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the finely chopped onions, celery, carrots, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes or until it is slightly caramelized.
- Add the potatoes, bay leaf, salt, pepper, thyme, and allspice. Stir to coat everything.
- Add the fish stock, beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Add the diced fish and simmer for another 20 minutes.
- Stir up the cornstarch and water slurry and pour it into the soup. Bring the soup back up to a boil to thicken it.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the rum.
- To serve the soup, sprinkle with parsley, and pass the rum and the Bermudian sherry pepper sauce (or your own favourite hot sauce) so people can add another dash of rum if they'd like, plus they can add hot sauce to make the soup as fiery as they'd like.
- Serves 8.
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Check out my past ‘Eat the World’ Recipe Challenge posts:
(in alphabetical order)
- Argentina: Red Chimichurri Sauce
- Australia: Anzac Biscuits (Crispy Oatmeal Cookies)
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- China: Kung Pao Chicken
- Colombia: Pan de Yuca (Warm Cheese Buns)
- Dominican Republic: Empanaditas de Yuca (Cassava Empanadas)
- Ecuador: Pescado Encocado (Fish in Coconut Sauce)
- Egypt: Fava Beans and Feta
- England: Gluten Free Fish and Chips and Mushy Peas
- Ethiopia: Four Ethiopian Recipes for a Fantastic Feast
- Fiji: Spiced Sweet Potato and Banana Salad
- Finland: Lohikeitto (Creamy Salmon, Potato, and Dill Soup)
- France: Axoa d’Espelette (A Simple Stew from the Basque Country)
- Georgia: Charkhlis Chogi (Beets with Sour Cherry Sauce)
- Greece: Moussaka
- Guyana: Fried Tilapia in Oil & Vinegar Sauce (fish dish)
- Hungary: Túrós Csusza (Pasta Scraps with Cottage Cheese)
- India: Kerala Upma (Fluffy, Kerala Style Breakfast Upma Recipe)
- Iraq: Tepsi Baytinijan (Eggplant & Meatball Casserole)
- Ireland: Dublin Coddle (A tasty Sausage and Potato Stew)
- Israel: Cucumber, Feta, and Watermelon Salad
- Jamaica: Rice and Peas (Coconut Rice and Red Beans)
- Japan: Chawanmushi (Steamed Savoury Egg Custard)
- Kenya: Maharagwe with Ugali (Red Beans with Cornmeal Slice)
- Laos: Ping Gai (Lao Grilled Chicken Wings)
- Lesotho: Chakalaka & Pap (Veggie & Bean Stew with Cornmeal Polenta)
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- Luxembourg: Stäerzelen (Buckwheat Dumplings)
- Malta: Ross il Forn (Baked Tomato Rice)
- Mexico: Cochinita Pibil Tacos (Pit Barbecued Pig to Make in Your Oven)
- Morocco: Moroccan Shredded Carrot Salad with Oranges
- Netherlands: Boerenkool Stamppot (Kale-Potato Mash with Sausages & Pears)
- New Zealand: Classic Pavlova
- Poland: Polish Honey Cake
- Portugal: Tuna and Sardine Pâtés
- Puerto Rico: Piña Colada Cocktail
- Scotland: Cranachan (Raspberry, Whisky & Oat Cream Parfaits)
- Senegal: Mafé (Beef and Peanut Stew)
- Slovakia: Bryndzové Halušky (Potato Dumplings with Cheese & Bacon)
- Sudan: Peanut Butter Creamed Spinach & Peanut Meringue Cookies
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- Switzerland (Christmas): Basler Leckerli Cookies
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- Trinidad & Tobago: Peanut Butter Prunes
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- United States (Soul Food): Smothered Pork Chops
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Nicoletta De Angelis Nardelli
Such a delightful soup, Margaret! Love fish soup/chowder and this one is so intriguing with that touch of rum and hot sauce. A must-try!
That rum is a surprising touch, and I must say I really like what it does for the chowder - adds lots of interest and intriguing flavour. I'd love to taste this chowder on a beach in Bermuda someday!
I always consume more than my fair share of fish chowder when visiting Bermuda. Yours sounds wonderful.
Thanks so much. Oh what great memories you must have eating the soup at its source! I bet nothing compares to a chowder made from fresh fish caught right there the same day.
Camilla M Mann
Sounds intriguing with the rum addition. Nice.
It really is wonderfully interesting and complex in flavour with that rum in it - fun to try something so new to me!
A very interesting soup with rum!
Yes, it really has a unique and delicious flavour - the rum makes it!