Help me Australianise this Clam Chowder recipe!

One of the many culinary delights I experienced on a recent trip to the US with my fiancee was Clam Chowder, served in a sourdough bowl. Delicious!

I’m rather fond of cooking (although, ironically, I don’t eat game), and I’ve experimented with a few dishes since we got back, which I’ve been quite happy with.

Anyway, I like soups- I make an awesome French Onion soup, if I do say so myself- and I thought I might try my hand at a white Clam Chowder.

I found a couple of recipes online, of which this ingredients list (from Wikibooks) is fairly typical:

* 1 pound canned clams, minced, or 12 ounces frozen, thawed
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 1 medium potato, diced
* 1 medium onion, diced
* 1 cup boiling water
* 3 ounces salt pork, diced
* 1½ quarts milk, scalded
* 1 tablespoon butter
* Salt and pepper to taste

Now, the most immediate obstacle is the fact that we don’t have Clams in Australia. I’m localising the dish by using Green Mussels from New Zealand (readily available in the supermarket), but I’ve got no idea what “Salt Pork” is or where to get it. Wikipedia says it’s similar to bacon, but fattier and saltier. Given that fatty and salty foods are generally bad for you, and Salt Pork isn’t available here, I’m thinking about using lean bacon instead, but I’m not sure how suitable it’s going to be.

Any other cooking enthusiasts out there able to offer any help, ideas, or suggestions?

We can get canned clams here (SA) but the mussels would be yummo imho. It looks as if the salt pork is what we call “streaky bacon” and a good butcher should be able to do that for you.

Well, there’s the Giant Clam (Tridacna gigas) that can be found in the Great Barrier Reef. Unfortunately, they’re classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the World Conservation Union due to overfishing.

The supermarkets here never cease to amaze me… I ducked in earlier this afternoon to grab some bread and milk and eggs, and sure enough, they have tinned baby clams there!

I’ll have to wait until payday to get all the ingredients, though… and I’m going to try mussels as well, on the theory that soups taste better with fresh ingredients, and fresh mussels are really, really nice. :smiley:

If only I could find Monterey Jack cheese somewhere here (not for the chowder, I just like cheese), and I’d be even happier… :slight_smile:

I used to love Monterey Jack when I was a kid. Somehow it doesn’t seem as tasty now. How about some Muenster (American, as opposed to the French Munster) or some Havarti?

I doubt anyone is going to have Muenster (I get funny looks trying to track down Provelone!), but Havrti is a possibility.

I’ve given up all hope of finding American cheese here, most people have never heard of it. :frowning:

Dude. You seriously need Trader Joe’s!

I’m fairly sure I’ve seen Muenster in the Coles gourmet sections once or twice. I searched high and low for a specific kind of haloumi and I found it there.

I’ve just done a search and it seems that “munster” cheese is readily available. Could it be the same thing?

We do have clams in Australia.

I’m down in Adelaide, but here’s a few things that might help you - I make clam chowder regularly for my husband and he’s wrapt with the recipe I’ve adapted.

Go to your local markets (not supermarkets, they’re crap for what you need for a good clam chowder). Bonus points if they’ve got specialised fishmongers there. What you’re looking for are vongoli. These are baby clams, and about a kilo and a half gives you enough meat once they’re cooked and de-shelled to make a decent soup. You cook the clams in about a litre of water (or just enough to cover the shells), then strain the water off to remove any sand or grit and you’ve got clam stock, which you then use in place of plain water.

For salt pork, what you’re looking for is Belly Bacon or Speck. Essentially it’s a big, uncut slab of bacon from the belly of the pig. Most good deli stalls in a market will have something like it, especially if they cater to the Italian crowds (who also buy the vongoli). It’s got quite a thick rind and fat cap on it, and you render the fat down into the soup to give it more flavour.

Hubby likes spicy clam chowder, so I always have dried chilli flakes on hand. Toss them in when you’re browning off the bacon and onions, then by the time the milk, potatoes and stock have gone in, you’ve got a very slight warmth just in the back of your throat when you eat it.

I always finish my clam chowder off with double cream (just your standard woolies or coles brand thickened cream does well) just at the end, and serve it in small bread loaves, hollowed out to make bowls.

[ETA]: Just surfing through google, it appears cockles, pippis and vongoli are sold interchangeably (though they are different animals) and are able to be used interchangeably in recipes. So if you find a fishmonger, they may be selling any of the three but they can all be used to the same end.

Muenster cheese
Munster cheese

The first article says Muenster is ‘only vaguely related’ to Munster. I’ve only had the American version (Hm… And that not for a long time. I’d better go to the market tomorrow.) so I can’t give a comparison.

Of course. When we lived down the Port we used to buy a huge bag of them from Torrens Island. I’d make linguine!

Where I live is known for clamming (and oystering, and of course dungeness crabs). A couple of years ago I went out and dug some small clams. I put them in baskets elevated from the bottom of the pail and let them sit in seawater for 24 hours. Still so full of sand as to be inedible. Which was too bad, since the meat had a nice buttery taste.

I’ve got to hoof it into the Central Markets if I want clam chowder (don’t drive :(). That’s always fun. Heading into town to buy a kilo and a a half of clams, plus milk, potatoes, speck, cream, bread loaves etc. And then bringing it all home by train :smiley: That’s why hubby only gets chowder every couple of months or so.

You’d of course want to do this on a really hot day.

Wow where in QLD are you. I always joke about turning your watch back 20 years…well I thought I was joking.

Using one of the fatty slab bacons is designed to provide your cooking fat and impart flavour. The recipes I use for both French Onion soup and Cream of Mushroom soup use bacon fried on its own and then discarded before the main ingredient onion/mushroom is cooked in the resultant oil. I don’t use the fatty continental slabs though I use bacon or proscuitto. I don’t discard it of course, I either make a sandwich for myself while cooking or chop it up for use in salads.

You can substitute anything you personally like the flavour of including any variety of ham or sausage. Choritzo sausage is often used in this way.

No salt pork in Australia? How do you people live? :smiley:

I was going to say ‘You can’t get Monterey Jack, but you have chorizo?’, but then I looked it up. Apparently there are other kinds of chorizo than the Mexican style I’m used to.

How are you fixed for smoked salmon? Have you ever had, or made, smoked salmon chowder?

Smoked Salmon is cheap and plentiful- they have Salmon Farms in Tasmania and you can get delicious smoked salmon from the supermarket.

I love Smoked Salmon… the idea of a Smoked Salmon Chowder intrigues me greatly! :slight_smile:

If clams were unavailable, could you not swap out oysters instead?

I like clams, but have never had oysters aside from canned/ smoked ones. Is there a reason they couldn’t or shouldn’t be substituted?

I used to make clam chowder with jarred mussels when I lived in a country where clams were hard to come by, and they substituted fine.

The salt pork is used as flavorful fat. It’s only 3 ounces. Do not use lean bacon. Use a normal, fatty bacon. Used sparingly, fat is your friend. Salt pork is also known as “white bacon” in certain places. Look for the absolute fattiest bacon you can find.

Personally, I make my clam chowder with regular bacon–I like the smoky taste that imparts.