Creamy and hearty winter steelhead chowder
Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB


Superabundant dispatch: Creamy winter steelhead chowder and this week’s news nibbles

By Heather Arndt Anderson (OPB)
Dec. 1, 2023 2 p.m.

Like a Hallmark holiday movie in a bowl

OPB’s “Superabundant” explores the stories behind the foods of the Pacific Northwest with videos, articles and this weekly newsletter. To keep you sated between episodes, Heather Arndt Anderson, a Portland-based culinary historian, food writer and ecologist, highlights different aspects of the region’s food ecosystem. This week she offers a recipe for creamy winter steelhead chowder to chase the chill.

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By now we assume you’ve worked through your Thanksgiving leftovers (we’ll see your turkey noodle soup and raise you a Thai pumpkin-turkey red curry), so now we’re focusing on other one-pot cozy comforts. We still love fall ingredients, don’t get us wrong, but now that the temperatures are dipping into the 30s, we’re ready for hearty braises, slow cooker classics and rustic dumplings. We’re ready for chowder. We’ve never met a chowder we didn’t like, whether it’s corn chowder or the old stalwart clam — but the creamy steelhead version in this week’s newsletter is a game changer, especially now that winter steelhead are running. If you aren’t much of an angler, that’s OK — steelhead and trout farmed in the U.S. are always green choices, especially if you source it from Northwest farmers like Pacific Aquaculture, located in the Columbia River on the Colville Reservation. What’s the difference between a rainbow trout and a steelhead, anyway? Read on to find out!

Scuttling into crab season, apples for days, hunting for late-season wild mushrooms and good things in markets.

Freshly picked morsels from the Pacific Northwest food universe:

More Dungeness crab season delays

There’s another delay on the Dungeness crab season this year — low meat yield and that pesky domoic acid means it’s looking like mid-December at the earliest. KLCC’s Rachael McDonald has the latest.

That’s a lot of pie

As we mentioned recently, it’s been a banner year for apples. In fact, apples did so well this year that there’s now a glut of them around the country — millions of pounds too many — but don’t worry, Alan Jinich reports for NPR that at least some of the surplus will go to the hungry.

Go for Oregon’s gold

If you’re thinking about a late-season chanterelle foray, you may be in luck — local mycologists offer a few tips on how to ensure a successful mushroom-picking experience. KLCC’s Nathan Wilk talked to the experts and shared the highlights.

Good things in markets

It’s still very much looking like the cool season out there. Local bitter greens like radicchio, endive, and puntarelle go beautifully with the fresh citrus that’s beginning to show up (keep an eye out for fresh yuzu). Persimmons and apples are still in markets, the winter squash are staying put, and local broccoli (and purple cauliflower and Ghibli-esque Brussels sprouts stalk) season will soon be winding down. Root vegetables are here to offer their flavorful contributions to the table; carrots, beets, potatoes are familiar faces, but don’t sleep on ugly-ducklings celeriac and rutabaga, both of which make beautiful additions to bisques and lend themselves well to roasting. Oh, and radishes! Look for black ones, white and purple daikons, and watermelon radishes. Wild chanterelles are still available in better-stocked produce aisles and farmers markets, but once snow comes the season will wrap. If you want shellfish for holiday party planning, oysters are a reliable dazzler when Dungeness crab season is on hold (plus they pair perfectly with sparkling wine and jojos).

Recipe: Creamy winter steelhead chowder

A bowl of creamy and hearty winter steelhead chowder.

A bowl of creamy and hearty winter steelhead chowder.

Heather Arndt Anderson / OPB


Steelhead may look and taste similar to salmon, but believe it or not, steelhead are the same species as rainbow trout. They’re like sisters on different paths — a rainbow trout stays in her hometown (freshwater) her whole life, whereas an anadromous steelhead makes her way to the big city (the ocean) before eventually returning home to her small town stream to meet a mate and spawn. It’s kind of like every Hallmark holiday movie, if you think about it. No one knows why some trout stay put while others migrate out to sea — as far as fish biologists can tell, it’s entirely random. Enjoy this chowder with our cheese-beer bread recipe, or any biscuit, crusty bread or even oyster crackers. Serves 6-8.

Note: If you have a whole steelhead, use the head, fins and bones for stock, otherwise you can use instant dashi, store-bought fish fumet, chicken stock or vegetable broth. If you can’t find steelhead at all, feel free to use salmon instead. If you have to remove the skin from the fish yourself, the easiest way to do it is to heat the filet skin-side down for a minute before cubing it — the skin will peel right off in one piece. (You can crisp the skin up in the pan to snack on while the chowder cooks.)


2 strips thick-cut bacon, diced (or 3 tbsp butter)

1 small white or yellow onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, diced

2 tbsp all-purpose flour

5 cups fish stock (or 5 cups water + 2 tbsp dashi granules)

½ cup heavy cream or half and half

1 tbsp white miso

1 fist-sized waxy potato (such as Yukon gold), diced but no need to peel

1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels

1 lb skinless, boneless steelhead filets, cut into 1″ pieces

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1 tbsp chopped fresh dill, parsley or chervil


  1. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat until the fat renders out and it begins to brown, about 6-8 minutes (or melt the butter if you’re not using bacon). Add the onion and celery, and sauté until the vegetables are glossy and beginning to turn color, about 3-5 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the flour onto the bacon and vegetables, and stir it around to coat everything in the flour (it’ll be a sticky mess, but don’t worry). Add the fish stock, cream and miso, stirring to dissolve the flour and miso.
  3. Bring the pot to a low boil and add the potatoes. Cook until the potatoes are al dente (not quite cooked through), about 15-20 minutes. Add the corn and steelhead and bring the chowder back up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the fish is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the pepper, and then taste the chowder and add salt to taste.
  4. Garnish with the fresh herbs and serve with bread, biscuits or crackers.

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