HOW IS IT MADE?
Chowder is made by first frying onions and diced potatoes in salt pork or bacon and then cooking these further in a fish or seafood broth or clam juice. Sometimes corn or celery is added. Towards the end of cooking, milk, evaporated milk or cream is added, and then finally fresh chopped clams or other seafood.
Salt pork is the salted, preserved belly fat of pigs. It is used to flavor many traditional American dishes including chowders and Boston baked beans. Salt pork is similar to bacon, but unsmoked and much fattier and saltier. Unlike with bacon, it is the fat of salt pork that is used as a flavoring, but the small amount of attached pork meat is not. Some modern recipes call for bacon to impart a mildly smokey flavor. Butter can be used in place of either.
WARNING LEVEL: HIGH
Clam Chowder is a very popular soup with Muslims who order seafood dishes to avoid eating meat. Because salt pork is a fat, not a meat, it is impossible to see it in the chowder. Salt pork is almost never listed as an ingredient on restaurant menus. Chowders containing bacon are easier to detect. These chowders have small pink bits floating in the soup.
Some canned varieties of chowder may not contain pork, but will list an alcoholic beverage like sherry, brandy or a wine like chablis in its ingredients.
No matter what kind of chowder you’re buying—clam, fish, corn or chicken, Manhattan or New England style—check the ingredients. If the chowder contains ‘bacon’, ‘salt pork’, ‘sherry’, ‘brandy’ or ‘chablis’, skip it. When eating out, ask your waiter if that restaurant uses salt pork or bacon in their clam chowder recipe.
SPECIAL NOTE: ARE CLAMS HALAL?
Sunni: Clams are halal food in the Malaki, Hanbali and Shafa’i Schools. Within the Hanafi School, there are varying opinions.
Shi’a: Jafaris do not consider clams to be halal.
And the two seas are not alike―the one palatable, sweet, and pleasant to drink, and the other salty and bitter. Yet from each (kind of water) do ye eat flesh fresh and tender and ye extract ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the Bounty of Allah that ye may be grateful.
—The Qur’an. Suratu Faatir: 12
CAN MUSLIMS USE KOSHER SYMBOLS TO KNOW IF CHOWDER IS HALAL?
NO. Clams, shrimp and other mollusks and cephalopods (squid, octopus, etc.) are not kosher. Chicken chowder cannot be kosher because it goes against the halachic prohibition against mixing meat and dairy (milk, cream, etc.) in the same meal. This means that you won’t find a kosher symbol on a can of clam, seafood or chicken chowder even if it doesn’t contain a pig product like pork fat or bacon. You need to turn the can around to look at the ingredients list.
SPECIAL NOTE: ALCOHOL AND COOKING
Beware of any food that is usually, but not always, made with an alcoholic product, even if it has been sautéed, simmered, baked or set on fire. The conventional wisdom accepted by just about everyone is that all the alcohol you add to a dish evaporates during cooking. It’s wrong.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture’s Nutrient Data Laboratory, you have to cook something for a good three hours to remove virtually all traces of alcohol. After it has simmered for 15 minutes, 40% of the alcohol remains in the canned chowder.
[Source : http://spotlighthalal.blogspot.com/2010/01/spotlight-halal-chowder.html]