Bouillabaisse

Need to look at online recipes again before doing this. Trying to work out a manageable version of the recipe!

  • Fish – meaty fish is the best for this, monkfish would be good, or mullet. Edible skin is good as it helps keep chunks together
  • Prawns, mussels, crab or even lobster
  • about half a fennel bulb (or fronds from garden, or some seeds if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 onion (or leek, or both)
  • 1 Red pepper or 2 tomatoes or a bit of each
  • 1 stick celery (optional but particularly good if you don’t have fresh fennel)
  • Chicken stock
  • Potato, preferably waxy or new potatoes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Clove garlic – crushed
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Saffron
  • Chilli flakes or harrisa
  • Bay leaves
  • Parsley and other herbs like thyme and savory
  • Star anise
  • Peel of half an orange

Cut the onion into half-rings and start frying in the olive oil. Roughly cut the pepper, celery and fennel and add them once the onion has started to brown. Saute for 5-10 mins then put in a blender with the chicken stock and blend thoroughly. Then put it through a sieve (this gets rid of the flakes of pepper skin and stops it from looking like sick). Add some herbs, star anise and orange peel to the soup – ideally in a piece of cheesecloth or tied in a bundle so you can remove them later. Simmer the soup gently for about 10 mins and add salt to taste. If you’re not ready for it then, just let it cool with the herbs in it.

Meanwhile peel the potatoes and slice into thick slices – about 1 cm thick. Boil for 5-10 mins but stop and drain them before they start flaking up.

Cut the fish into large pieces and brown in the sunflower oil. Wash the shellfish but don’t cook.

Take a couple of bits of the potato (about the volume of an egg) and start mashing up with the egg yolk and the crushed garlic clove – a pestle and mortar is probably best for this but a fork in a shallow bowl could work. Gradually add about 50 ml, olive oil – to make a sort of potato mayonnaise – it’s called rouille. Add chilli or harrisa, salt and lemon juice to taste.

About ten mins before serving put everything except the rouille in a pan and heat it through gently until the shellfish is cooked.

Serve with the rouille so that people can put some into their dish and eat it part-mixed with the soup. Traditional accompaniments are french bread (sometimes made into croutons) and grated cheese – maybe paresan or something like Gruyere. Some people include Pernod, but it needs to be flamed off when cooking the fish I think. Some white wine might be good.

Note I didn’t use any tomato in the soup. Quite liked it, but could experiment. Leek is also traditional – possibly instead of the onion. When I first did it I put chilli flakes in the soup, but I think it’s worth trying the traditional way with chilli only in the rouille.