Here’s a recipe for one of those lazy, sun-dappled summer days when the corn is high and the bream have been happily bending a cane pole. It’s a classic fish chowder that gets some extra summery sweetness from its “corn stock” base, made by simmering the cobs. This is a superb use for panfish, but you can substitute almost any other fish with equally satisfying results.
4 large ears fresh corn
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
4 whole peppercorns
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1⁄4 lb. bacon, diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
11⁄2 lb. panfish fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. MAKE THE CORN STOCK:
Remove the kernels from the corn and set aside. Snap the cobs in half. Heat vegetable oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrot, celery, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the cobs and 2 quarts of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 40 minutes. Strain through a colander into another pot. Toss out the solids.
2. MAKE THE CHOWDER:
In a large stockpot, over medium heat, saute the bacon until almost crispy. Set aside. Add the potatoes and reserved corn kernels to the pot, along with generous dashes of salt and pepper, and saute, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the corn stock. Bring to a boil; simmer for 12 minutes. Add the reserved bacon, then gently drop in the fish. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Carefully pour the cream around the sides of the pot, then shake the pot to incorporate it. (Don’t stir, lest you break up the fish.) Garnish with chopped parsley. Serves 4.