Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew
originating from the port city of Marseille.
"It is usually a simple fish stock containing different kinds of cooked fish and shellfish. This is complemented with a variety of herbs and spices such as garlic, orange peel, basil, bay leaf, chillies, fennel and saffron. Vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes and celery are boiled together to produce a rich flavour. The exact proportions vary by cook and region." "The Charte de la Bouillabaisse Marseillaise was signed in 1980 by 11 restaurants in an attempt to standardize the definition of a bouillabaisse. According to the charter, a bouillabaisse must be prepared with at least four of the following fish: monkfish, John Dory, galinette (or gunard), mullett, rascasse, conger eel, and chapon (rascasse rouge). Most versions will contain at least rascasse and chapon."
For a typical soup base
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions, small dice
- 2 leeks (white portion), washed thoroughly and sliced
- 3 pounds sculpin, dressed and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
- 8 small plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded, and quartered
- 1 stalk celery, small dice
- 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili flake
- 4 medium fennel bulbs, cleaned and quartered
- salt as pepper as needed for seasoning adjustment
1. In a large, heavy stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the onion and leeks with a bit of salt (stirring often and making sure not to brown them) for about 10 minutes. Add garlic and continue to sweat, stirring often until onions and leeks have lost their main texture - approximately 15 min.
2. Increase to high-heat and add the fish. Stir vigorously until the fish falls apart and dissolves into the onion, leek, and garlic mash - approximately 10 min.
3. Add all other ingredients - except water - and continue to cook over medium heat for approximately 10-min. Make sure to stir often to prevent scorching.
4. Pour in the boiling water, lower the heat to a medium simmer, and cook for 20- to 30-min.
5. Process the entire product through a food mill or chinois, ensuring to puree the mixture into a fine, homogenous soup base.
6. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Do not add additional salt during the cooking process as some water will evaporate during the simmer and you could possibly over-salt the base.
"The soup base can be used immediately or cooled (in a cold-water bath in a large sink) and refrigerated for up to two days."
For the completed soup
- 6-7 pounds of assorted fish (with bones) or 5-6 pounds of dressed fish fillets. Choose from any of the fish described in the 1980 charter.
- 2 medium fennel bulbs, sliced thinly
- 1 tsp saffron threads, bloomed in 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 recipe of the bouillabaisse stock
- 1 baguette, sliced into rounds
- 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (or other firm boiling potato) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- ground cayenne pepper to taste
1. Cut the fish into equal pieces, approximately 2- to 3-inch pieces.
2. Marinate all the fish pieces and fennel in a large mixing bowl with 1/2 of the bloomed saffron and water and oil. Cover and place in a refrigerator for at least 2 hours but not more then 6.
3. Bring the soup base to a rapid boil and add the remainder of the saffron.
4. Toast the bread slices until just browned in a toaster, toaster oven, or an oven set on low-heat. Rub with the halved garlic cloves and set aside.
5. Add the fish and potatoes to the boiling stock and cook until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
6. Remove the fish and potatoes from the stock and place in a large dish. Put a slice of bread in the bottom of a bowl and ladle the soup base over it. Sprinkle thyme over the fish and potatoes. Serve separately.
"This is the recipe of one of the most traditional Marseille restaurants, Grand Bar des Goudes on Rue Désirée-Pelleprat.":
4 kilograms of fish and shellfish:
- Rascasse blanche (eng. scorpionfish);
- rouget grondin (red Gurnard);
- baudroie (lotte, or monkfish);
- saint-pierre (eng. John Dory);
- 10 slices of pain de campagne (country bread)
1. Clean and scale the fish and wash them, if possible in sea water. Cut them into large slices, leaving the bones. Wash the octopus and cut into pieces.
2. Put the olive oil in a large casserole. Add the onions, cleaned and sliced; 6 cloves of garlic, crushed; the pieces of octopus, and the tomatoes peeled and quartered, without seeds. Brown at low heat, turning gently for five minutes, for the oil to take in the flavors.
3. Add the sliced fish, beginning with the thickest to the smallest. Cover with boiling water, and add the salt and the pepper, the fennel, the bouquet garni and the saffron. Boil at a low heat, stirring from time to time so the fish doesn't stick to the casserole. Correct the seasoning. The bouillabaise is cooked when the juice of the cooking is well blended with the oil and the water. (about twenty minutes).
4. Prepare the rouille: Remove the stem of the garlic, crush the cloves into a fine paste in a mortar. Add the egg yolk and the saffron, then blend in the olive oil little by little to make a mayonnaise, stirring it with the pounder of the mortar.
5. Cook the potatoes, peeled and boiled and cut into large slices, in salted water for 15 to 20 minutes. Open the sea urchins with a pair of scissors and remove the Corail with a small spoon.
6. Arrange the fish on a platter. Add the corail of the sea urchins into the broth and stir.
Serve the bouillon very hot with the rouille in bowls over thick slices of bread rubbed with garlic. (rouille sauce is also used) Then serve the fish and the potatoes on a separate platter.
1. ↑ Jean-Louis André, Cuisines des pays de France, Éditions du Chêne, 2001
2. ↑ Octopus is used in bouillabaisse only in the Goudes quarter of Marseille, according to Jean Louis André, Cuisines des Pays de France
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