Recipe: Untraditional Curry Oyster Chowder

Spring, when the days fill with blossoming flowers and gentle breezes, and we move from robust stews to lighter fare! Except here in the Northeast, we’ve been experiencing an unusual cold spell, with a slew of below freezing nights and umbrella-flipping winds.

We realize it could be worse; there are fruit farmers who might lose entire crops. But this blustery weather definitely means it’s still soup weather, and what could be better than a traditional oyster chowder?

And by traditional, this is definitely NOT the standard New England chowdah treatment. Looking to mix things up, I began thinking about Southeast Asian fish curries, and realized that there was nothing stopping me from concocting a curry-influenced oyster chowder, one that combines the fish sauce, cilantro and curry pastes of Thailand, with the hearty potato and carrot comforts of a chowder.

We recommend using 1 dozen East Coast oysters (or 2 dozen, YOLO), shucking them and reserving the juices. Or, you could use a jar of preshucked oyster meats, cutting the oysters to bite-size pieces if needed.

Like many recipes, the following is more of a guide than strict directions, so feel free to substitute vegetables that you have on hand. There are those who might insist that a chowder have potatoes, but we’re already breaking so many rules that we’re certainly not going to judge if you change that. Depending on how saucy/soupy you make it, this can be treated either as a soup and served with bread, or treated as a curry, and served with rice.


Curry Oyster Chowder

Yield: 4 for dinner
Prep Time: 30 min
Total Time: 60 min


  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1" ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 15-oz can coconut milk
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • salt (to taste)
  • 1-2 T curry paste (to taste)
  • 1 c frozen peas
  • 1 3-oz package enoki mushrooms, roots cut off, separated in small bundles
  • 1 dozen oysters, shucked, juices reserved, or 1 jar preshucked oysters (see note above)
  • 1/4 c cilantro, minced
  • peanuts, chopped (for garnish)


  1. In a medium pot, add 1 T of oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and toss until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, carrots and coconut milk. Add the reserved oyster juices, and about 2 c more water, or enough so that the vegetables are submerged. Add the fish sauce, and additional salt to taste.
  2. Turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes have begun falling apart, about 15-20 minutes.
  3. Add the curry paste, peas and enoki mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 min until the peas and mushrooms are cooked. Add the shucked oysters, and cook gently for 2 minutes, or just until the edges have begun to curl. (Note that the oysters will continue cooking from residual carryover heat). Turn off heat, stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  4. Serve the curry oyster chowder with additional cilantro and crushed peanuts as garnish, accompanied by crusty bread or rice.