25/11/2013

Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse
... taken back to basics.

Bouillabaisse is a Provençal fish stew, originating from a dish made by fishermen with unpopular fish that they had trouble selling. Anyone who tells you that a Bouillabaisse is anything more than a simple fish soup, a simple, rustic fish soup is telling you lies.

Bouillabaisse, like much French cuisine, has been elevated to ridiculous heights with all manner of rules applied; it must contain this, that and the other. Whatever! It's fish soup. Got it?

Ingredients

Seafood - whatever you have: haddock, smoked haddock, pollock, squid, prawns and scallops, for us

Seafood

Stock - fish stock, chicken stock, whatever you have

Flavours - onion, leek, fennel, garlic, tarragon, star anise and olive oil; tomatoes, tomato purée, sea salt and black pepper

Veggies - why not? I went with a red pepper

Rouille - garlic, egg yolk, olive oil, sea salt and white pepper

Stock

Stock is the base of this soup. Some methods will use whole fish that don't want to be in the soup, boiled, blended and sieved. You can buy in a fish stock or even use a cube, but watch those ingredients.

I was lucky to be cooking some chicken pieces alongside for another day, which had finished, so had some lovely chicken stock and bones. I was also double-lucky to be preparing some other fresh fish for lunches, so had the trimmings, bones, heads and whatnot from them, too.

So, chicken stock, bones, fish pieces and some shredded leek greens, I boiled on for maybe 20 minutes to reduce the stock, sieved and set aside to add into the Bouillabaisse later.

Bouillabaisse

In a large pan, soften some chopped onion, shredded leek whites, shredded fennel and garlic in olive oil. Toss in a stalk of tarragon and a couple of star anise. Keep the heat low and let the flavours meld.

Once soft, pour in a carton of chopped peppers along with a good dollop of tomato purée.

Add the stock and set to a high simmer, dropping in the fish pieces. Reserve the shellfish until near the end.

Reduce the liquor and allow the soup to thicken up. Drop in the shellfish within five minutes of serving - they'll take no time to cook through.

Rouille

Simply, garlic mashed into a paste and let out with an egg yolk and some olive oil to make a mayonnaise, of sorts. Salt and pepper to taste.

Some rouille recipes include breadcrumbs. We don't need to. If you do need to thicken your soup, add some arrowroot directly to the soup at the time you add the shellfish.

Serve

Serve out into wide brimmed bowls with a good dollop of rouille in the middle.

We also had some Cheese Puffs alongside - cassava flour, grated cheese, egg, cream, water and baking powder. Pour into cake moulds and rise in the oven for maybe 15 minutes.

Cassava Cheese Puffs

... actually, more like mini-Yorkshire Puddings.

3 comments :

  1. It looks really delicious!
    I'm going to make it for my mom who is pesco, no chicken stock, of couse.
    I'm wondering it is ok if I may add a spoonful of mayo just before eating to thicken the soup. I know it's ridiculous, adding mayo? :(
    The reason is, it reminds me the fishsoup I ate a decade ago in Norway somehow.
    Thanks! :)

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I only used chicken stock because it was there - if you get the fish whole, just fillet them and make up a stock from the heads, tails and bones. Alternatively, there are many good quality fish stocks that can be bought, made up from good, natural ingredients.

      Mayonnaise would do fine! If "paleo" is a concern to your and your Mom, just find the best mayo you can with as few additives as possible. If not, spoon in and enjoy the heck out of it! The rouille is pretty much a garlic mayo, anyway, and it's the bread crumbs in the rouille which help the soup to thicken up as well as using up old/stale bread. See, it's a working man's dish, rustic, low brow ... not the heights of gastronomy that it has become.

      I hope you and your Mom enjoy it.

      Delete
  2. Yes, I'd like to use fish stock myself.
    I thought mayo might be helpful in both ways thickening soup and enhancing flavor.
    Thanks for your tip! :)

    ReplyDelete