Bouillabaisse - Perfect Seafood Stew for a Chilly Night (Recipe)

D.C. has been cold lately. Yes, yes, it's all relative. We haven't the thick blood of you Minnesotans, Canadians, and the like (and a shout out to Akron, which I hear just got a bunch of snow). But even after five years in D.C., Florida hasn't completely left my blood. In any event, it's the kind of wind-whipping cold that keeps sensible people indoors to nestle on the couch on a Friday night with a movie and a bowl of something hot and delicious. Recently we did just that, with an incredible bouillabaisse. I urge you to make this.

Bouillabaisse is a traditional seafood stew that originated in Marseille, and I had a great bowl of it during my summer in France (but no picture of it, so no post). But until last week I had never made it. Now you can add to my growing list of food obsessions. The flavors are complex and aromatic. The rouille is a garlicky mayonnaise that is spread on toasted baguette rounds and served as described further down.

The recipe below is primarily taken from one of my favorite cookbooks. It's called "The Secrets of Success Cookbook." Nearly everything I've tried from it has been flat-out great. Published in 2000, it gathered favorite recipes from all types of restaurants in San Francisco. All that said, I have tweaked the recipe below a bit (particularly the rouille, which I found way too garlicky, and I really like garlic). I also used a different variety of seafood and made the fishstock from scratch. This recipe is for six people, but you can easily halve it and have very hearty portions for two people.

The Fish Stock

2 quart stock pot
1 lb. of fish bones or heads (make sure it's white fish. I used two pollack heads)
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the edge a knife and peeled
1/4 of a medium size onion
5 cups of water

(1) Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil
(2) reduce to a simmer and continue simmering for about 20 minutes
(3) strain ingredients and reserve stock after it has reduced down to about 4 cups

The Rouille

1/4 red bell pepper
3-5 cloves garlic
1 egg yolk
juice of 1/2 lemon
10 threads of saffron
salt and pepper
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

(1) In a food processor combine all ingredients except the olive oil and process
(2) while processor is on, add olive oil in a slow drip, until done. The rouille should be emulsified. If you didn't do it right and it's watery, well, I'm just not in the mood to help you right now. Google "homemade mayonnaise" or something and try again.

The Bouillabaisse

Large saute pan
1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/4 garlic head, peeled and crushed with edge of knife
10 saffron threads
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced leek
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb
1/2 cup peeled and diced red potatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of good diced tomato
zest from 1/4 of an orange
1/2 teaspoon of fennel seeds
6 fresh basil leaves
1 fresh rosemary sprig
2 cups dry white wine
3 Tablespoons Sambuca (original called for Pernod, Pernod being French, but Sambuca is what I had and it worked just fine)
the 4 cups of fish stock from above
12 clams
18 mussels
6 large or 12 medium shrimp
1 lb. red snapper, cut into large chunks

(1) Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add garlic, onion, and saffron, and stir for 2-3 minutes
(2) Add carrot, leek, fennel, and potato, saute for 5 minutes, season with salt and pepper
(3) Add the tomatoes, zest, fennel seeds, basil, and rosemary. Stir for 3-4 more minutes
(4) Stir in wine and Sambuca (or Pernod). Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the fish stock, cover pan, and simmer for 20 minutes.
(5) Add the clams and cook for about 10 minutes.
(6) Add the mussels and cook for 1 minute. Remember that if the clams or mussels don't open, they were dead before they made it in the pot. They need to go!
(7) Add the red snapper and shrimp and cook for about 3-4 minutes until snapper is firm and the shrimp are pink. Remove from the heat.

If you want to serve it traditionally, take out the seafood and place it on a platter. Then pour the remaining broth and vegetables into individual bowls. Slice a baguette into thin slices, toast, then spread the rouille on each one. Place the toast rounds floating in the broth and serve. People can select what seafood they want.

We just spooned the seafood into our bowls along with the stock, and had the toasts on the side (dipping them into the stock, of course).

Labor intensive? Yes, a bit. But trust me, this one is worth the effort. Especially on a cold night.

1 comment:

matthewjg said...

Thanks for the recipe. I really love seafoods and would definitely try this one. Love the photos too.