- 250 ml single cream
- 280 ml full fat milk
- 4 to 5 potatoes (depending on size)
- 2 leeks
- 1 to 1½ cup frozen sweet garden eas
- ½ smoked eel (approx 175g with skin)
- chive flowers
- pea shoots
- plain flour
- Start the potatoes for the potato cakes - these will take the most time to cook. Place the potatoes in the pot cover two thirds up with salted water- once boiling turn down to a simmer.
- To start the base for the chowder and to give it a smoky fish taste:
- Pour the cream and the milk into the frying pan and heat to just before boiling. As these are heating, skin the eel into large chunks. Trim the edges/ harder flesh of the eel and set to one side- these will be used as a garnish. As the liquid comes to the boil add the chunks of eel and simmer for about 4 minutes. Strain the liquid into a large bowl; leave the eel in the strainer over a small bowl. Use the small spatula to scrape the last of the cream out.
- In the frying pan, heat some oil and a generous knob of butter. While this is heating cut the greens of the leeks off; cut the root end off; split down the middle; check for grit (wash if necessary); and remove the outer skins. Slice the whites thinly. Add to the heated oil. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and cover to let sweat until the leeks become soft and translucent. Add this point add the liquid from the previous step, bring to a simmer and let it reduce until a consistency similar to double cream.
- As the liquid is reducing- prepare the herbs and a roux. Chop the Dill.
- Cut the Chives. Trim the Chive Flowers. Prepare the Pea Shoots. Crumb some flour and butter to form a roux.
- When the liquid has reduced, add the frozen peas and heat through for about 2 to 3 mins (don’t over cook as the latent heat continue cooking the peas). Put the chowder into a bowl and add some of the chopped dill. Season to taste.
- Swap the Potatoes and Chowder: As this is happening, keep a check on the potatoes. Once cooked, set aside and let dry. Now put the chowder into the pot from which you removed the potatoes. Leave to one side. Just before plating, re-heat the chowder for serving.
- Prepare the Eel garnish: As the potatoes are drying, heat some oil and butter in the cleaned frying pan. Add the bits of eel for garnish and crisp them. Set aside on a paper towel.
- Making the Potato Cake: Peel the potatoes and rice them onto the roasting tin. Add some butter, herbs (dill and chives), and the roux. Mix together gently with hands. Add the chunks of eel from the strainer in Step 2 and season well. Shape a potato cake using the potato cake cutter. Flour both sides and fry until golden brown on each side.
- To plate up: Place the potato cake in the middle of shallow bowl. Ladle the pea chowder around the potato cake. Place the pea shoots on the potato cake and add the crisped eel on top. Squeeze some lemon juice over the potato cake. Finally, sprinkle the chive flowers over the chowder and serve. Enjoy!
By Shane Cullinan for MasterChef Ireland.