As Bermuda is an island and blessed with plenty of delicious seafood, fish is one of the staple ingredients for many meals and the most famous dish is Bermudian fish chowder.
Originally brought to Bermuda in the mid-1600s with the first colonists. Legend says that the first Bermuda fish chowder was created on the beaches of St. George’s in cauldrons placed above bonfires while everyone sat drinking and talking after the days end. Fresh fish in a delicious chowder after a long days’ work? Wonderful!
The fish chowder over the years grew to become uniquely Bermudian using local fish, herbs and vegetables. Each local family has their own secret recipe, however it is customarily made with Grouper, Snapper, Cod or Sea bass (tails, bodies and heads are used), meat stock, root vegetables, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Bermuda’s own Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Pepper sauce. Those expecting typical New England chowder will be sorely mistaken – this chowder is known for being a tangy, broth-like soup more appropriate for the warm island climate than a thick and creamy heavy stew.
Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Pepper Sauce is the key ingredient – it blends 17 herbs and spices with a fairly mild heat level overall and is the perfect complement to any chowder, stew and can even be used as a marinade. The use of sherry peppers began centuries ago when sailors would fortify barrels of sherry with hot peppers to make their spoiled food portions that much more palatable. In the 19th Century, shipmen of the British Royal Navy shared their spicy concoction with the locals who adopted and improved the recipe. During this time Bermuda had begun to grow pequin peppers (“bird peppers” known to Bermudians) to trade with sailors who had barrels of sherry available and so the now famous Bermuda Sherry Peppers were created.
In 1964, Yeaton Duval Outerbridge (aka YDO) and his cousin Robert Dean Outerbridge decided to serve up a batch of Sherry Peppers at Robbie’s Harbourfront Restaurant in Hamilton. Shortly thereafter locals and tourists were knocking down YDO’s door asking for samples to take home. He of course recognized the opportunity and began to commercially brew and sell his Original Sherry Peppers in the basement of the family home at “Villa Monticello” in Flatts Village. Since then almost every restaurant and household in Bermuda has a bottle of Outerbridge’s Original Sherry Peppers. It has become THE Bermudian hot sauce.
Fish chowder can be found on most restaurant menu’s island wide; however our favourites are Wahoo’s Bistro & Patio , Harry’s, Henry VIII and the Hog Penny.
Our favourite recipe is from the Gosling’s website.
Thank you to Magnus Manske for the great photo – Bermuda Fish Chowder, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22876898
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