Every once in a while I get a deep craving for clam chowder. I don't know why but this is the only soup I consistently crave. Maybe it's the creamy broth or the briny clams, but it's all so comforting. Well today, I wanted something just a little different. I recently saw on TV someone preparing a Viet Cajun seafood boil, so why not incorporate the same idea into a chowder? Presenting my Viet Cajun seafood chowder! By using Asian aromatics with Cajun spices and loads of seafood, you get one flavor punching soup. It just may rival the original clam chowder.
Viet Cajun Seafood Chowder
- 3 tbsp butter
- ½ cup shallots chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1 tbsp ginger minced
- 1 tbsp garlic minced
- 2 Thai chile minced
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ tsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 lb potato peeled and diced
- 16 fl ounces clam juice
- 1 cup corn kernels
- 1 lb clams
- ½ lb shrimp
- ½ lb scallops
- 1 cup coconut milk
- fresh lime juice
- fresh chopped Thai basil
- fresh chopped cilantro
- Melt 3 tbsp butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the shallots, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and Thai chile and saute until aromatic, about 2 minutes.
- Add the flour and Cajun seasoning, mixing until the ingredients are coated in the flour. Add the diced potatoes and clam juice and cover the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are just barely cooked.
- Add 1 cup corn, clams, shrimp, and scallops and cover the pot. Continue to simmer until the seafood is cooked, about 7-8 minutes.
- Add 1 cup coconut milk to the soup and bring it back to a simmer. Season the soup with salt. pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice. Garnish with chopped basil and cilantro. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This Viet Cajun seafood chowder is loaded with ingredients from both Eastern and Western flavors. However, the steps are actually very simple. If you ever made clam chowder before, this seafood version is not much different.
Start by sauteing the aromatics. We're going to use shallots, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and Thai chile to flavor the base of the soup. The trick to using lemongrass is to trim off the white ends and remove the outer tough skin. Use the back of a knife and bruise the lemongrass, gently hitting the stalk. Doing this releases the flavors; you can almost immediately smell the lemongrass!
I only added 2 Thai chiles but you can increase or decrease the amount depending on how spicy you want your chowder.
Add the flour and Cajun seasoning and stir to coat the aromatics. Okay here's the thing with Cajun seasoning. It already has salt in the mixture so you don't want to go too crazy with it. You can also use a homemade mix but if you're using the premade blend, start with just 1 ½ tsp. If you want to kick up the spice, add a tsp of cayenne to the soup.
Now add the potatoes and clam juice, cover the pot, and cook until the potatoes are just done. You don't want the potatoes to be fully cooked because we're going to continue to simmer the soup with the seafood.
I used a combination of clams, shrimp, and scallops, but you can use whatever your heart desires! Lobster, mussels, and fish are all fair game. Add the seafood to the stock and simmer for another 7-8 minutes or until cooked.
To give the Viet Cajun seafood chowder that needed creaminess, add coconut milk. Season the soup once more and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
I like to finish my chowder with fresh basil and cilantro for the full Vietnamese touch. Although I was initially unsure of how this chowder would taste, I can say with certainty that it was a winner!
For more Asian soup inspiration check out this miso ramen hot pot!