Baja seafood chowder

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Baja seafood chowder
We often hear about how well Kaiser Permanente is doing relative to our competition on many different quality indicators. It's a challenge to do as well against the competition we face from the snack food industry. According to FoodTV, there are 500 million Twinkies consumed each year in the United States as well as one and a half billion pounds of potato chips (includes 20 million bags from Frito Lay alone.) One million Moon Pies are made per day. There is a franchise in Texas that produces 70,000 Krispy Kreme doughnuts per day. Five billion Cheese Doodles are made per day. There are six full-time cheese tasters in Wisconsin tasting cheese for Cheetos. For dessert, Hostess makes 11,800 fruit pies per hour. Meanwhile, look for a new organic apple vendor at the October 8th Friday Fresh Farmers' Market. The stonefruit growers from Kashiwase Farm have completed their second season with us and we will welcome them back next year. This week's recipe is modified from Soup of the Williams-Sonoma series. It is supposed to serve eight. Recently, I doubled it, served only eight, and ran out. It takes longer than 20 minutes to prepare, but, if you make extra and freeze it, you have a ready made low fat and tasty meal for a busy night. This chowder makes my top ten favorite list.


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (tolerance for "heat" varies widely — if you aren't sure, make it with only half the amount the first time)
  • 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 -1/2 cup fish stock (you can buy frozen fish stock, thaw and dilute it)
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 lb tomatoes, coarsely chopped with their juice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (equivalent to 1 Tbsp fresh — most dried herbs are 3 times as potent as fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried basil or chopped fresh basil
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 – 2 dozen clams and/or mussels
  • 1/2 lb firm fish (Ask at your local fish place what works well in a chowder)
  • 1/2 lb prawns, shelled and deveined (Simple plastic shellers/deveiners are cheap and easy to find at kitchen stores.)
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • Lime wedges to pass around


In a large pot with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the garlic, onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and pepper flakes a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the remaining ingredients except for the seafood. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the seafood, raise the heat a little, cover and cook until the shrimp are done and the clams and mussels have opened. Discard those that do not open. (If you make extra to freeze for a quick meal another night, do so before adding the fish.) Serve in warmed bowls, garnish with cilantro and pass the lime wedges.

Nutrition Information (per serving)