Katama Bay Oyster and Smoked Bluefish Chowda
For the Chowda Base:
In a large rondeau, melt butter over medium heat until beginning to foam. Add bay leaves and thyme followed quickly by onions. Do not brown butter. Sweat onions a few minutes, until they begin to soften. Add celery and carrots, season with salt, and sweat vegetables 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove and discard thyme and bay. Add fish fumet and bring to simmer. Add potatoes and simmer 12 to 15 minutes, until potatoes are slightly undercooked. Add heavy cream and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, chill in ice water bath, cover, and refrigerate.
To Assemble and Serve:
Gently heat Chowda Base to simmer. Add smoked bluefish followed by oysters and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, until oysters plump. Do not overcook oysters. Turn off heat and stir in half the reserved oyster liquor followed by herbs and celery leaves. Season with black pepper. Adjust seasoning with liquor and salt if necessary. Serve immediately.