Either Jack London or Mark Twain once said, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Regardless of who said it, I have found it to be true. During the summer months the temperature can be in the hundred degrees in the Livermore Valley and fog off the coast of the Pacific makes it damp, cold, and windy 45 miles away in San Francisco.
If you find yourself in San Francisco on one of those cold summer days, you might stop into the Blue Mermaid Chowder House and Bar on Fisherman’s Wharf for some chowder. The Blue Mermaid is the home of the award winning dungeness crab and corn chowder.
The Blue Mermaid’s neon sign beckons the chilled tourist
The evening we stopped at the Blue Mermaid we were chilled to the bone and the piping hot dungeness crab and corn chowder sure hit the spot. Besides providing warmth, the chowder was really flavorful and full of pieces of crab. The chowder is cooked with a jalapeño pepper, which is removed before serving and gives the chowder a bit of zip. When served, the chowder is garnished with cilantro pesto.
The Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder at the Blue Mermaid
If you want to try to make your own dungeness crab and corn chowder at home, I found the recipe for the Blue Mermaid’s chowder on the View from the Bay Website. Here is it:
Award Winning California Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder
Awarded Three Times By The Schweppes Great Chowder Cook Off in the Creative Category
(Makes about 12 cups for a first course or 6-8 for a main course)
- 4 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 cup corn
- 2 yellow onions, diced
- 1 Pasilla Chili, diced
- 1 Jalapeño Pepper, split in half, seeds removed
- 2 celery stalks
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
- ½ tsp. Chipotle powder
- 4 sprigs thyme, stem removed, leaves chopped
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1 Quart Crab Stock
- 2 lbs. Kennebec potatoes, ½” diced
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 2 oz. cream cheese
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 lb. fresh Dungeness crab meat
- 1 bunch cilantro, diced and chopped
- ½ cup olive oil
Over low heat, add smoked bacon to a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Slowly render the fat and then increase the heat to medium to make the bacon crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave about half the bacon fat in the pan.
Add the butter, and sauté the corn. After 4-6 minutes, remove the corn from the pan. Add the onions, sauté until translucent. Be careful not to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Add pasilla and sauté an additional 4-minutes, remove from the pan. Add celery, sauté 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Add the onion, corn, pasilla and bacon to the celery. Add Old Bay, Chipotle powder, split Jalapeño pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Just barely cover the vegetables with crab stock and then add the diced Kennebec potatoes. Increase the heat to high and boil the potatoes vigorously for about 4 minutes. The goal is to soften the outside of the potato to help thicken the chowder, while keeping the potato al dente.
Add the heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat. If you need to thicken the chowder a little more smash a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot.
Adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh white pepper. Remove the Jalapeño pepper before serving.
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
- Approximately ½ cup of olive oil-purée in a blender
Place Chowder in a bowl, add 1 -2 oz. of crab meat and garnish with cilantro pesto.