Harbor House Seafood in Hatteras (OBX)
After a couple misses, I resorted to driving around in search of a deli or market that might make the regional style of chowder. I found Harbor House Seafood in Hatteras Village.
Miss Vicki proudly told me that she does indeed make Hatteras chowder and always had some in the freezer case. She explained that it was “strong” to be used as a base. Some customers will add cream for New England style chowder, tomatoes for Manhattan, or dilute it with more water for the Hatteras style. She also said that she goes light on the salt in general for her cooking and some people will want to add more.
A cup’s worth of genuine Hatteras clam chowder made with locally harvested clams and nothing from cans runs $5.49. She microwaved the frozen chowder for me so I could enjoy it immediately and swaddled it in a paper napkin cozy to keep it warm for the ride. Now this tasted more like it! Fresher, more direct flavor impact and all about the clean briny taste of the clams, this simple base had a few chunks of potato, celery, onion, parsley, and chopped clams. If I’d had cooking facilities, I guess I might have added a little bacon. The undiluted strength had a slight vegetal bitterness in the aftertaste that went away with the addition of a little more H2O. This example of Hatteras chowder was a completely different ball game.
Vicki’s Tuna Salad is made with fresh yellowfin, a teensy bit of mayo, crisp diced celery, and savory scallions. This will make it very hard to go back to the canned stuff, and I can’t praise it highly enough. I loved the North Carolina blue crab dip too, packed with sweet lumps of crab, even eating it cold instead of warmed up.
Besides raw local seafood for cooking at home, Harbor House Seafood also features a variety of cooked seafood items on the menu. The chimichanga listed on the board should have been my tip-off that somebody hailed from Texas. Miss Vicki also sells homemade Texas-style barbecue sauce using her family’s recipe. Mildly spiced, not sweetened, a little smoky with nice tang and depth, the sauce is true to its origins.
Miss Vicki said that if the store happens to be closed, customers can just step over to their residence next door and they’re happy to open up. I wish there were a store like this near me and I hope ‘hounds will be knocking on that door.
Photos from Hatteras Village
Harbor House Seafood
58129 Hwy 12, Hatteras, NC 27943