I’m a little late with a post tonight. We spent today spring cleaning, even if our last snow storm was only last week. It was warm, finally, and oh, how I have missed fresh air and a little bit of sun! Now that things are starting to get a bit more orderly around here, maybe we’ll get around to throwing a little party — a soup party, to be exact.
James and I have been obsessed with bouillabaisse ever since we had our first taste, courtesy of a friend of my dad’s. But it took us about a year and a half to get around to making our first pot. And no wonder — it seems like liquid gold to poor grad students, as bouillabaisse is better with a variety of white-fleshed fish and shell fish. But even if you only have a few different kinds of fish, it’s still worth the effort. And it’s a good way to make a scant portion of fish seem extravagant.
This version is adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2. It’s a bourride, which is a garlicy fish stew, quite like bouillabaisse, but with a pungent aioli to finish things off. Like my dad’s friend, I add habañeros so everyone can adjust the spiciness of their soup to taste.
Recipe after the jump.
Level: Medium, but only in the sense that it takes a bit of time (and a sense of timing, especially with several different types of fish)
Cost: $$. It is fairly expensive, but all seafood is nowadays.
The only fish you cannot put in this is rich, oily fish, like salmon. Otherwise, pickup whatever’s freshest. Add the fleshy fish first. Don’t add the shell fish or shrimp until you’re ready to serve. Once the shellfish open up, you’re good to go.
- 2 lbs assorted fish, shellfish, and shrimp. I used 12 clams, 1/2 lb. shrimp, and maybe 1/2 lb. haddock in this batch.
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 carrots, sliced
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped, or 1 ~14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 12 oz. clam juice (if you’re not using fresh clams).
- 2 quarts fish or chicken stock, homemade
- 1 c. dry white wine
- 2 bay leaes
- 1/4 t. each of thyme, fennel
- 1/4 t. orange zest
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 pinch saffron flowers
- salt, to taste (none if you use clam juice)
If you’re using shrimp, peel and devein them, and return them to the fridge. Reserve the shells — you will want to use these to enrich your stock. Cut the fish up into 1″cubes and refrigerate this as well. If you use whole fish, keep the bones, skin, and heads for the stock.
In a heavy soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot and stir. Cook on low heat for 8 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, stock, and all remaining ingredients except the fish (including any shrimp shells, bones, and trimming from the fish). Let simmer for 40 minutes, partially covered. Skim off any gray scum from the surface every so often — this is coagulated protein from the fish, and it’s not so pretty).
While you’re waiting, make the aioli (recipe below).
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, drain the stock, reserving only the liquid. Rinse out your soup pot and return the broth to the pot. Place over high heat, check the salt level, bring to a boil, and then add the meaty fish. Turn down to medium, and let cook for 6 minutes or so, until the fish is cooked. Add the shellfish and shrimp. When the shrimp is pink and shellfish are all opened, pour the soup in soup bowls, top with aioli, and serve.
Spicy garlic aioli
- 1 egg yolk
- 3 T. bread crumbs
- 1/2 clove garlic
- cider or wine vinegar (whatever you have that tastes best)
- pinch salt
- 1/2 c. olive oil (approximately)
- 1/2 habañero chili, deseeded and sliced (this will produce a mild heat — add more if you prefer)
In a mortar or small bowl, use a pestle or spoon to smash together the garlic, habañero, bread crumbs, and vinegar. When you have a fine paste, add the egg yolk, mush together until uniform, and then slowly add the olive oil, drop by drop, as you stir (like you were making mayonnaise). When you have a creamy, mayonaisse-like consistency, taste for seasoning, add the salt, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve. This will keep for a few days.