“Die snoek loop!” It was front page news the other day here in the good old Cape: it’s finally snoek season and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one.
The “Cape snoek”, also known as “barracouta” in New Zealand and Australia (not to be mistaken with the game fish “barracuda”) is one of the Cape’s most popular exports. According to I&J’s “Fish Species” section on their website, these large-schooling predators are highly nomadic and often move around unpredictably. This, coupled with its fast growth, makes it a very resilient species, and its seasonal movement – better known as the “snoek runs” – varies considerably.
Enough of the educational talk. It just means that when you hear the term “die snoek loop!”, you know it’s time to get to the snoek sellers or your closest fish monger or harbour and get yourself a nice fresh snoekie. They also freeze exceptionally well, but nothing beats a fresh snoek in season.
Braaied (fire-roasted) snoek is the most popular way of cooking these beauties. I usually make a thick basting sauce of melted butter, lemon juice, chopped garlic, chopped parsley, and a good few spoons of homemade apricot jam. Lightly season with salt and pepper and you have a winner. But this time I got my hands on a huge packet of hot-smoked snoek. It was already lightly spiced with a mustard seed spice mix. I could have eaten the whole fillet just like that, but decided to try my hand at a smoked snoek chowder because of the lovely cosy winter-weather we’ve been having in the Cape over the last few weeks. Nothing beats some winter comfort food like a thick creamy soup with crusty brown bread.
This is a very hearty soup, and deserves to be your main meal. It is not overpoweringly fishy, but rather has a great balance of smoked fish, cream and chive flavours. It is extremely comforting! This recipe will serve 4 – 6 as a main meal.
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 generous tablespoons plain flour
- 600 ml fish stock, heated
- 600 ml milk, heated
- 400 g flaked deboned smoked snoek
- 250 ml (1 cup) cream or sour cream
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped chives or french chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh lemon juice to taste
- Heat butter and olive oil together in a soup pot on your stove top, and lightly fry onions untill glossy but not too brown.
- Add flour, and stir well for about 30 seconds.
- Add fish stock and milk and stir untill thickened and slowly simmering.
- Add flaked snoek and chives and stir .
- Remove from heat and use a stick blender to process untill smooth. Be careful not to burn yourself with the soup – it is very hot!
- Finally, add cream, season to taste, and stir untill properly heated through.
- Serve with crusty brown bread.