concarneau chowder

This is a super easy and delicious fish chowder, which I adapted to suit local ingredients here in Concarneau.  It was a huge hit and due to be repeated later in the holiday!


  • 500g live mussels, cleaned
  • 150ml breton cider
  • 25g butter
  • 100g rindless smoked bacon, cut into small cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 20g plain flour
  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 225g local fish (we used dorade) cut into short chunky strips
  • 120ml double cream
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • salt and ground pepper


Put the cleaned mussels and cider in a medium sized pan over a high heat.  Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes or until they have just opened, shaking the pan occasionally.  Then tip them into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices.  Leave to cool slightly and then remove the mussels from their shells, cover and set aside.  Discard the shells.

Melt the butter in another pan, add the bacon and fry until lightly golden.  Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the onion has softened.

Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Gradually stir in the milk and add all but the last teaspoon of the mussel cooked liquor (as the last part may be gritty), the potatoes and bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of salt and leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the bay leaf, add the pieces of fish, and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until the fish is just cooked.

Stir in the cream and season to taste with cayenne pepper, salt and white pepper.  Remove from the heat and stir in the mussels, to warm them through just briefly, and most of the chopped parsley.  Serve in warm bowls, sprinkled with parsley.


adapted from a recipe by Rick Stein


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