Sea to Table: Manhattan Style Blackfish Chowder

Heading into December, there’s simply no avoiding a significant drop in temperatures. With summer and early fall favorites like stripers, fluke, scup and sea bass now mostly departed from the inshore scene, anglers turn their attention to what’s left. With any luck, that will be tautog, cod, hake, pollock and haddock in offshore waters – but hopefully not too far offshore. While the fishing continues to grow tougher and the elements more challenging by the week, there is one great benefit as the chilly holiday season fast approaches: never will a bowl of fish chowder or a thick, hot, juicy fillet ever taste better.

Whether you target ‘tog at that white chin haven known as “The Highway,” cod, pollock and ling around Block Island, or mix including haddock and hake on deep-water wrecks further to the north and east, you are within reach right now of some of the tastiest treats to prowl the ocean depths. While just about any fish tastes great fried, these diezens of the deep are also great for grilling, baking, broiling, soups and chowders.

cHarissa spice makes everything taste great but works especially well with fish and game.
cHarissa spice makes everything taste great but works especially well with fish and game.

I lace all of these options with a tasty new product called cHarissaTM. It’s a cumin-based spice rub and condiment, available in Original (mild) and With A Kick! (spicy) variations, that contains virtually all the spices I enjoy most on fresh fish, venison and game birds. Although touted as “The Super Spice That’s Good On Everything!” it’s simply unbeatable for seafood when it comes to maximizing flavor with a minimum of effort. Available online at, it’s a healthy addition made of all natural ingredients while being free of sugar, gluten- and MSG. I’ve gone a little light here on the dosage. Add a bit more spice rub or condiment-style cHarissaTM if your taste preferences lean toward the heavy side. Enjoy.

Manhattan Style Blackfish Chowder


• 3 large pats of butter
• 2 cups onion, chopped
• 1 cup carrot, chopped
• 1 cup celery, diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1/4 cup tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon cHarissaTM (Original
• Flavor, condiment style)
• 1-1/2 cups dry white wine
• 2 cups cubed red potato, peeled
• 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
• 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
• 2 (8-ounce) bottles of clam juice
• 1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 pounds blackfish, cod, hake,
• pollock or haddock fillets cut into 1-inch squares

  1. Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add celery, onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté 10 minutes until all ingredients are lightly browned.
  3. Stir in tomato paste and cHarissaTM and cook for two minutes. Add wine and cook another two minutes.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients except for the fish and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. Add the fish and simmer another 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Discard bay leaf.

This chowder tastes great served immediately but it’s even better the following day after all the flavors have had a chance to meld. Be sure to break out some crusty Italian bread for dipping.

cHARISSATM Blackened Fish


•  4 large pats of butter
•  cHarissaTM (With A Kick! flavor, dry rub style)
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
•  1-1/2 pounds of blackfish, cod, pollock or haddock fillets 1 lemon

  1. On a large plate or cutting board, completely coat each fillet with a healthy dose of cHarissa dry rub seasoning.
  2. Heat a cast iron pan over medium-high heat until hot
  3. Add butter and immediately place each fillet into the pan and sear in place without disturbing for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Gently flip each fillet and sear the opposite side for another 2 to 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  5. If fish is not yet done, lower heat to medium, cover pan and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Remove fish, spritz with lemon and sprinkle on parsley. Serve piping hot and compliment with a cold one..