Kelli Brett’s Shark Bay Chowder

Editor Cuisine Magazine

I grew up in Western Australia, where Mum had one of the state’s first gourmet food stores. I worked there on weekends, tasting and serving exotic imported cheeses, coffees, and chocolates while my friends were eating processed cheese and baked beans, and it opened up a whole world of food to me.

Mum went on to have a lot of restaurants and cafes, including a restaurant on the beach in Shark Bay where she received daily fresh fish off the jetty. This seafood chowder was one of her signature dishes there and at home, where she always made extra to share with family, friends, or neighbours who didn’t always have a hot meal or someone to eat with. She’d never see anybody go hungry or lonely, that’s just the way she was, and I think the rest of our family inherited a love of food and the gift of sharing food from her.

— Kelli Brett

Image of Shark Bay Chowder

Shark Bay Chowder


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 – 3 rashers of bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Kernels sliced from 3 – 4 ears fresh sweetcorn
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 800ml fish stock, warm
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 60ml cream
  • 3 cups of cleaned and prepared mixed seafood, e.g. firm white fish cut into chunks, prawns (shelled and deveined), scallops (removed from shells, cleaned and trimmed), mussels (shells scrubbed, beards removed), and clams (shells scrubbed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh bread, to serve (see tips)
  • Sour cream, to serve
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced into long thin strips and put into iced water to curl, to garnish
  • Lemon zest, to garnish

Let’s Cook

Heat oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add bacon, onion, celery, chilli, and bay leaf, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown.

Stir in corn kernels, potato, stock, and wine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes until potato is tender. Remove one cup of soup and set aside, and purée the remainder with a stick blender (if using a blender to purée the soup instead, you will need to let it cool first).

Return the reserved chunky soup to the pot and return to a simmer. Stir in cream and seafood and simmer for around 3 minutes until seafood is cooked. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with fresh bread and a dollop of sour cream, and garnish with spring onion curls and lemon zest.


  • Mum served this chowder in individual warm crispy cob loaves that had the tops cut off and most of the inner soft bread removed, with sour cream and spring onion curls on top

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