Sunday, April 01, 2012

Bouillabaisse a la Marseillaise

I bet, you could not write the name of this dish if you are not french. Well, if you can, congratulations. I could not. I could not even pronounce it. But I can prepare it, I can enjoy it at lunch time, for dinner or even as a breakfast on early Saturday or Sunday mornings.   
Bouillabaisse is a French seafood stew, which home is supposed to be Marseille, but it is widely served in the coastal little ports of Southern France. It was once a cheap fishermen meal, which seafood ingredients depended on the daily catch. So, different kind of fish could be included, the most important thing is to put at least four varieties, every one of which delivers its own taste. Fish should be lean and fresh. The way I prepared the recipe is based  on the one from here. I added orange peel and wine.
There is a little rule conserning the serving of bouillabaisse - seafood in one dish and soup in another. But it all depends on you and your personal preferences. I like the fish to be hot, so I spoon a ladleful of soup onto it.

  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 3 sprigs of celery, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 kg (4 lbs) bony Mediterranean coastal fish (red mullet, sea bass, cod, snapper, monkfish)
  • 12 large raw shrimps
  • 20 mussels 
  • 10 clams
  • 3 cups fish stock
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 100 ml (3 oz) dry white wine
  • zest of half an orange
  • salt
  • fresh juice of 2 lemons

Shell and devein shrimps and remove heads. Heat olive oil in a pan and sautee onion, leek and shrimp shells until vegetables soften. Add tomato paste, fish stock, thyme, orange zest and saffron. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain broth through a sieve and discard vegetables and shrimp shells. Put the clear broth into a pot, add wine, fish, mussels and shrimps and cook for 10 minutes or until clams and mussels open and shrimps get orange in color. Season with salt and juice of lemons. Serve hot with toasted bread and rouille (spicy sauce made of garlic, olive oil, egg yolks and cayenne pepper). 

Small tip: It would be a good idea to cook the fish into a sieve to prevent its falling apart in the broth.

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