One of the least known of the Chowder subtypes (especially outside of its island home), Bermuda Fish Chowder is a tomato-based soup with several unique additions to its DNA.
The most unusual aspect of Bermuda fish chowder is its use of a very special local ingredient – Outerbridge sherry peppers sauce.
As noted on the Outerbridge website, their sherry pepper sauce is a Chef’s in America Award Foundation Gold Medal Winner and features 17 herbs and spices. The concept for sherry pepper sauce actually began centuries ago, when sailors began fortifying barrels of sherry with hot peppers during their long ocean voyages. This was then used to mask the less than appealing taste of rancid ship rations.
During the 19th Century, the British Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda was one of the largest maritime ports in the world. Royal Navy shipmen shared their unique sauce with the locals, who eagerly adopted and enhanced the recipe. FYI – sherry peppers sauce is one of my favorites, well worth seeking out for use in other recipes.
Bermuda fish chowder was supposedly invented on the beaches of St. George’s, in cauldrons placed above bonfires around which everyone sat to drink and talk at the end of the day. Fish chowder was very local in its choice of ingredients: it used meat stock instead of milk (which can spoil), root vegetables (which were some of the few crops Bermuda’s farming environment could support) sherry peppers (known for their preservative qualities) and, of course, fish.
Chowder lovers expecting a thick, typically New England-style consistency will be disappointed. This is a brothy soup, appropriate to the warmer island climate.
My recipe of this classic is based closely on the canonical Outerbridge version of the chowder, but with some tweaks to better suit my personal palate. You can by the Black Seal rum needed for the classic recipe here and the sherry pepper sauce here.
Enjoy this unique taste of the islands, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo