Manhattan Style Fish Chowder

Do you have a package of black cod sitting in your freezer that you’re not sure what to do with? Try a Manhattan-style fish chowder one of these chilly evenings. 

Black Cod, or sablefish, sounds exotic to me, and it is not one I’ve seen often in markets or restaurants, but it’s available at our market from Wild Alaskan Salmon. You can cook it like any other white fish. The taste is much better than any other white fish I’ve had, though! It has a high oil content, which is the reason for one of its nicknames: “butterfish.”

My family loved this fish in a fairly simple preparation, but one night I wanted a soup or stew. I first had Manhattan clam chowder as a kid and preferred it to New England style for years. I decided to try a Manhattan-style fish chowder. 

The fish had plenty of flavor but did not overwhelm the other ingredients, either. 

As is often true with my recipes, you can adjust the ingredients you use to your taste and what you have on hand. For instance, salmon would work in this recipe as well, though it will have a different flavor and texture. Also, you can use other vegetables, such as white or sweet potatoes, or different greens. 

I used a vegetable stock in my chowder, but I wished I had taken a few minutes to make a fish stock from the fish bones in my freezer. I looked online for a fish stock recipe but was not happy with any I found. Mainly, they were all too complicated. A quick fish stock can be simply made by sautéing some vegetable scraps in your preferred fat, then adding fish scraps and water to cover. Here’s a recipe for a large quantity of fish broth. All you need for your chowder is a couple of cups, and you can make that from the few bones you might find in your fish, and perhaps the skin, if you prefer not to have it in your chowder. 

This time of year, of course, tomatoes are not available. You can use whatever tomato product you have on hand. Add water to the thicker ones (such as paste), or use the thinner ones (such as juice) in place of some of the stock. Or use nomato sauce

However you make it, enjoy!

Photo by  Zachary Cross

Photo by Zachary Cross

Manhattan Style Fish Chowder



1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 cups of stock
2 cups no-mato sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, or tomato sauce
1 cup white wine
Several handfuls of baby spinach
½ - 1 lb black cod, cut into bite-sized pieces
Herbs or microgreens for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the vegetables and thyme leaves in butter until veggies begin to soften.
  2. Add the stock, tomatoes, and wine and simmer until the vegetables are tender. Add more liquid as needed.
  3. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the baby spinach. When soup returns to a simmer, stir in fish. When the fish begins to become opaque (this should be very quickly, if not immediately), remove from heat.
  4. Serve, garnishing with microgreens or herbs.
Heather Cross