FOODIE CALL: Dungeness crab and corn chowder

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It started 15 years ago as a challenge.

The kitchen staff at San Francisco's Blue Mermaid Restaurant wanted to spice up their crab chowder, so they tossed in a few ingredients they grew up eating.

What they got was a crab and corn chowder that has won awards at cook-offs in the East Coast and the Bay Area.

Although it is a top seller at the Fisherman's Wharf restaurant, the staff is more than happy to share the recipe with the public.

Award Winning California Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder
(Makes about 12 cups for a first course or 6-8 for a main course)

  • 4 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 pasilla chile pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, split in half, seeds removed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 4 sprigs thyme, stem removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 quart crab stock
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes, " diced
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. fresh Dungeness crab meat
  • 1 bunch cilantro, diced and chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil



Over low heat, add smoked bacon to a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Slowly render the fat and then increase the heat to medium to make the bacon crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave about half the bacon fat in the pan.

Add the butter, and sauté the corn. After 4-6 minutes, remove the corn from the pan. Add the onions, sauté until translucent. Be careful not to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Add pasilla and sauté an additional 4-minutes, remove from the pan. Add celery, sauté 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and continue to sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Add the onion, corn, pasilla and bacon to the celery. Add Old Bay, chipotle powder, split jalapeño pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Just barely cover the vegetables with crab stock and then add the diced red potatoes. Increase the heat to high and boil the potatoes vigorously for about 4 minutes. The goal is to soften the outside of the potato to help thicken the chowder, while keeping the potato al dente.

Add the heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat. If you need to thicken the chowder a little more smash a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot.

Adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh white pepper. Remove the jalapeño pepper before serving.

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
  • Approximately 1/2 cup of olive oil-purée in a blender

To Serve

Place Chowder in a bowl, add 1 -2 oz. of crab meat and garnish with cilantro pesto.
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