California Aquaculture Association

Recipe: Smoky Fish Chowder


  • 3 ounces bacon (about 3 to 4 slices), diced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium leeks, white and light- green parts, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup dry white vermouth or white wine
  • 2 cups fish stock, store-bought or homemade (see recipe)
  • 1/2 pound fingerling potatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 10 ounces flaky white fish, such as tilapia, cut into 2-inch chunks



1. In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, brown bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

2. Spoon off all but 2 tablespoons of bacon fat from the pot. Add butter and let melt. Add leeks and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in paprika; cook 1 minute. Pour in vermouth and simmer until almost completely evaporated, about 2 minutes. Stir in stock, 1 cup water, potatoes, thyme and remaining salt. Simmer until potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.

3. Add milk and cooked bacon to pot; bring to a simmer. Add fish and cook until just opaque, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a fork to flake fish into large pieces. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Remove thyme. Serve immediately.