Bouillabaisse is a seafood and fish stew from the South of France that if you close your eyes while taking a bite can be transporting. The sun wriggles in through the orange, garlic and pepper flavors, while the bounty of the sea is caught in the opened clam and mussel shells. The spicy and creamy rouille spread on crusty bread and dipped into the stew's broth guarantees not a drop will be missed. Traditionally, a Bouillabaisse has 5 different fish plus several types of shellfish. That can seem daunting to the everyday kitchen and wallet, mine included and I live on the coast. Since the freshness of the fish and the richness of the broth really make this stew the sum of all of its parts, there is flexibility in the recipe. I was at my local market that sits right on the water where the fishermen bring in their catch, and chose what looked best and at the right price. We want a great meal here, but not one that will break the bank. I bought a cooked lobster, since I am a chicken when it comes to throwing something live into boiling water! I might normally have gotten frozen Gulf shrimp in the shells, but some beautiful and local fresh Maine shrimp caught my eye. Live clams and mussels and fresh cod are a staple in my town, so they are always available. My fish may have been from New England, but the spices and flavors spoke of the sunny and warm French coastline. Ah...take me away! Bouillabaisse
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots, about 2
2 cups chopped onion, about 1 large
1 cup chopped celery, about 2 large stalks
4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon herb de Provence or dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried fennel
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes, with their juice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 cups water
2 cups clam juice, or fish stock
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons fine grated orange zest
12-15 leaves fresh basil, sliced thin
pinch of saffron
1/4 cup pureed roasted red peppers
1/2 pound medium shrimp with shells, shells removed and saved
1/2 pound mussels or clams, scrubbed and debearded*
1-1 pound cooked lobster or crab, shells saved if available
1/2 pound cod or other firm fleshed white fish
salt to taste
*Before cooking, sprinkle shells with cornmeal, and soak for twenty minutes in lukewarm water. The shellfish will expel most of their ingested sand.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add carrots, onion, and celery and saute until done. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, herb de Provence or thyme, fennel, cayenne pepper, shrimp and shellfish shells. If you want to add a lobster claw or crab legs into the final stew, do not add those now. Add the juice from the tomatoes, white wine, red wine, water and clam juice. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until reduced by 1/3 and is rich in color and taste. Remove from heat and strain through a sieve, pressing out all liquid.
Return broth back into the stockpot and add the lemon juice, orange zest, basil (reserving some for garnish), saffron, diced tomatoes and red pepper puree. The broth can be made ahead to this point and actually tastes better the next day. Before serving, heat the broth over medium heat. Add clams first, cook a few minutes then add the shrimp, white fish, and just before serving add the cooked shellfish and reserved claws. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open. Adjust seasoning by adding more cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Evenly divide the fish and seafood into 4 shallow soup bowls and spoon broth over the fish. Garnish with reserved fresh basil.
Serve with crusty bread and rouille.
Notes: If you can get a really fish stock, add that instead of the water and omit adding the shellfish shells. The fish stock or cooking of the shells is a key component for the depth of the broth. Some recipes call for chicken broth as a substitute, but this is a compromise. For the Bouillabaisse, use a a combination of fish and shellfish that are the freshest you can buy.
(From Ina Garten, Food Network)
4 large garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 extra large egg yolk, at room temperature*
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the garlic and salt on a cutting board and mince together. Transfer the mixture to a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the egg yolk, lemon juice, saffron, and red pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
With the machine running, pour the olive oil in a thin, steady stream through the feed tube to make a thick mayonnaise emulsion. Transfer the rouille to a serving bowl and store it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
*RAW EGG WARNING
Use caution in consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs due to the slight risk of Salmonella or other food borne illness. To reduce this risk, use only fresh, properly refrigerated, clean, grade A or AA eggs with intact shells, and avoid contact between the yolks or whites and the shell.