Lin Pardey’s Mussel Chowder

This is a guest post from Lin Pardey, author of many cruising books and DVDs including The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew, now in its third edition.  She and her husband Larry have sailed over 185,000 miles in two boats they’ve built themselves.  Amongst other appearances, I know that Lin and Larry will be at the 2012 Annapolis Sailboat Show.  Their website contains lots of cruising tips — and you can sign up for their free e-newsletter.

Mussel and Kumara (Sweet Potato) Chowder from Lin Pardey

From the first time I found that cockles, mussels and clams don’t bite, I grew to love scavenging for these tasty morsels as we explored out of the way anchorages. I grew to love the chowders I could make with them using very simple ingredients I always had on board, even if we’d been far away from provisioning ports for a month or more. But until I found the following recipe, mussels were my least favorite choice.

About a month ago, Larry and I found ourselves in Dargaville, a small port town on the west side of New Zealand’s north coast. I asked two folks which cafe in town was the best. Both, without a moments hesitation said, “Blah Blah Blah” without hesitating.  They pointed across the street and I realized that was the name of the cafe. Kumara and mussel soup (Kumara is a local sweet potato) sounded too interesting to pass up. If you try the following recipe you’ll probably agree.

Mussel & Kumara Chowder
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 2
  • 12 green lip mussels (can substitute other mussels)
  • 2 large kumara or sweet potatoes
  • 1 small regular potato, if desired
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium brown onion- halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 rashers (that’s Kiwi for “slices”) bacon
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup milk OR ½ cup milk and ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • Cream
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro)
  1. Steam mussels just until opened. Remove from shells. Cut each one into five pieces.
  2. Bake kumara or sweet potatoes until soft.
  3. Boil potato until mashable.
  4. In large heavy sauce pan melt butter, add garlic, onions and bacon cut into small pieces. Saute until bacon is well cooked. Add curry powder and stir while it heats.
  5. Add flour to make roux – then milk. When this comes to a boil, add chicken broth and simmer for ten minutes or until onions are very tender.
  6. Mash kumara then add to the pot and stir until it comes to a boil. Taste and if it is too sweet, add mashed regular potato. (I liked it with or without.)
  7. Turn heat very low and add mussels, then lime juice. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk, or coconut milk. Do not boil anymore or mussels will be less tender.
  8. Put in bowls, drizzle with fresh cream, top with good portion of chopped fresh coriander.

Note from Carolyn — I made this using US-style sweet potatoes and clams for Dave (I’m allergic to clams and mussels; no mussels around here).  Even with the substitutions, Dave thought it was fantastic and I loved my new “potato chowder”  (I removed half as my portion before adding the clams).  So even if you don’t have all the local ingredients, try it anyway!

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  • Adrienne
    Posted at 15 September 2017 Reply

    Rashers is the English word for a slice of bacon, not “iconically” a ” Kiwi” name for it. I’m a kiwi 🙂
    The Kumara is a white fleshed, purple skinned sweet potato.

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