Salvadorian Seafood Chowder

When I think of my favorite dish in the world, I think of this “soup.” It takes me back to childhood memories in El Salvador. My parents are seafood lovers and occasionally on weekends, my dad would bring home some fresh seafood and my mom would whip up this soup. It was quite the treat. I have loved seafood for as long as I can remember. Sometimes my dad would go fishing in  a river  or the ocean with a net. I know, it takes you back centuries. Then we would go home and cook up a seafood stew with all the goodies he had caught. Absolutely humble and earthy as it was, we learned the value of cooking with fresh ingredients.

Sopa Cremosa de Mariscos

Seafood Chowder

1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 Roma tomato, chopped
2 tbsp butter or oil
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup clam juice
2 cups water or fish stock
1 tsp corn starch
1 tsp achiote powder
4 salmon or cod fillets
1/2 lb. jumbo shrimp, deveined and shelled if desired
1lb seafood blend (calamari, scallops, etc.)
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
Salt and pepper- al gusto


In a pot, over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper, & tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until soft and caramelized. Remove from heat.

Next, blend together heavy cream, clam juice, water, achiote, veggie mixture, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch as a thickener.

Place the salmon, shrimp and seafood blend in the same pot where you sautéed the veggies and pour the blended cream over the salmon. Add a little salt and pepper and cook for about 10-15 minutes over medium heat.

En Español

Cuando pienso en mi plato favorito, pienso en esta sopa. Es algo que me lleva a los recuerdos de mi infancia en El Salvador. Mis padres son amantes de los mariscos y de vez en cuando en los fines de semana, mi papá traía mariscos frescos a casa y mi mamá hacia esta sopa. Era algo exquisito. He amado los mariscos desde mi niñez. A veces mi papá iba a pescar en un río o en el mar con una red. Yo sé, te lleva a siglos atrás. Entonces nos hibamos a casa a cocinar un guiso de pescado con todos los mariscos que había pescado. Absolutamente humilde como era, aprendimos el valor de cocinar con ingredientes frescos.

1/2 cebolla, picada

2 dientes de ajo, picados

1/2 pimiento o chile verde, picado
1 tallo de apio, picado
1 tomate Roma, picado
2 cucharadas de mantequilla o aceite
1 taza de crema de leche
1 taza de jugo de almeja
2 tazas de agua o caldo de pescado
1 cucharadita de fécula de maíz
1 cucharadita de achiote en polvo
4 filetes de salmón o bacalao
1/2 libra de camarones gigantes, limpios y sin cáscara, si desea
1 libra de mariscos mixtos (calamares, vieiras, etc.)
Cilantro o perejil picado para decorar
Sal y pimienta al gusto


En una olla, a fuego medio, derrita la mantequilla y sofría la cebolla, el ajo, el apio, el chile verde, y los tomates. Sazone con sal y pimienta y continúe la cocción hasta que estén blandas y caramelizadas. Retire del fuego.

A continuación, mezcle la crema de leche, jugo de almeja, el agua, el achiote, la mezcla de verduras y 1 cucharadita de fécula de maíz como espesante.

Coloque el salmón, camarones y el resto de los mariscos en la misma olla donde fueron salteadas las verduras y vierta la crema licuada sobre el salmón. Añada un poco de sal y pimienta y cocine durante unos 10-15 minutos a fuego medio.

Torta de Berro: Watercress Fritatta

What to do with leftover veggies or greens? Make a frittata! I used watercress in this recipe, a super healthy leafy green. It reminds me of baby spinach or arugula, but with a more pronounced and robust, peppery taste, perhaps due to being closely related to radish.

Frittatas are very popular in Salvadorian cooking but we called them tortas. When it comes to Salvadorian tortas, anything goes. Left-overs usually work great in tortas. My mom used to make delicious tortas with left over spaghetti or cooked rice. It’s a delicious way to use any ingredients you have on hand, and as long as you have eggs in your fridge, you’re good to go. Tortas are like open-face omelettes that can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Eat just as you would eat an omelette or put it in a sandwich. Here’s the simple recipe for watercress tortas. You will need a good non-stick pan. I prefer to use my crepe pan because it makes it easy to slide onto a plate and flip. My toddler loved this torta. She would eat this over a burger. You can introduce greens very early on and hope that your munchkin will continue to like them.

Ingredients: 

1/4 bunch of watercress (for 1 torta)
2 tablespoons good quality oil or butter (I like to use butter sometimes)
Chopped onions (as much or as little as you want)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 eggs
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco or feta (optional)

Heat the oil or melt a teaspoon of butter on the pan. Add the onions and let them caramelize a bit, until you hear them sizzle. Rinse watercress (or leafy greens of your choice) and trim off the stems. Add to sizzling onions and toss around to mix. Beat the eggs and add the mixture to the pan. Swirl the pan around to get an even coating. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.Cook on medium heat for a couple of minutes, scraping the edges a lit bit with a spatula. When the top of the torta is almost set, gently lift the edges with a spatula and shake the pan a little bit to loosen it. Next, slide the torta onto a plate. Carefully place the pan over the plate and flip it quickly. Cook for about 30 more seconds, and voilá! Sprinkle some cheese over the torta if you’d like and enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or quick dinner.