This past month, I attended the Chowder Chowdown at the Vancouver Aquarium. For the event, twelve Ocean Wise chefs in the Vancouver area compete head-to-head for the title of 2012 Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown Champion. All the original chowders are paired with various Granville Island and Rickard's beers.
I don't remember the last time I was here, but the giant prawn is unforgettable!
Of the twelve chowders, I had a few favourites. Here is the Citrus Soy & Seafood Chowder by Warren Mercier of the Vancouver Aquarium. Very Asian in flavour with crab, shrimp and halibut, this had a very strong sesame flavour and the freshness of the herbs really shone through.
Another of my favorites was the Cotto Dungeness Crab Cioppino from Alex Tung of Cotto Enoteca Pizzeria. This had a good spice to it and I loved the use of the ciabatta crouton. It gave the rich soup a nice texture contrast.
Another interesting one was the Tea Smoked Arctic Char & Szechuan Bacon Chowder from Todd Bright of Wild Rice. The chowder had a nice smokiness to it but it was just a touch too watery for me. The little jalapeno and green onion biscotti was fun and even better when crumbled up into the chowder.
From Kamei Royale, Troung Minh Xong presented us with a Lobster Miso Chowder. This was very creamy with a smoothness unmatched by the other chowders we had. There were chunks of lobster and salmon with each serving and it was one of the heartier chowders in the lineup.
And the winner of both the Critic's Choice and the People's Choice was the Creamy BC Spot Prawn Chowder from Chris Wittaker of the newly opened Forage at the Listel Hotel. The chowder was topped with a poached quail egg and a smokey piece of Chicharon.
I have since visited Forage and am happy to report that they serve this on their current menu. And if you want to try to make this at home, you can! Here is the recipe. But to be honest, I don't know anyone who'd be willing to slow roast pork skin for 6 hours at home!