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.
Isn’t it pretty? This recipe — the third part of this very short series — is delicious, vibrant, and somehow, fitting for the start of spring. I even planted my own Chinese chives this week, with hopes that they would get an early start this spring. The chives are a perfect match for these gorgeous shrimp: the chives’ subtle hint of flavor only serves to enhance the richness of the shrimp’s pink flesh. It reminded me of how serious people were about fresh seafood in Beijing. They wanted it brought to their table, live and thrashing, before the preparation could begin.
This dish is dead easy to make. The most labor-intensive part of the whole process was shelling the shrimp, but since I save my shrimp shells for stock, it was worth the hassle.
As an aside, there’s something rather fulfilling about using as much of any ingredient as you possibly can. If you roast a chicken, save the bones. If you cut into a leek, keep the green parts. As for fish? Buy them whole, and save the heads and bones. Store the bits and pieces in a big container or two in the freezer, and when you have the time and inclination to make stock (fish, chicken, vegetable, beef, or pork), transfer the ingredients to a large pot, cover with water, add a few seasonings, simmer for a couple of hours, and strain. Your effort will pay off; that I can promise you. You’ll have amazing stock at hand, in the freezer, for that next gorgeous dish you hope to try. Oh, and paying the extra money for the organic/ free-range/local ingredients won’t hurt quite so much.
Next time: I’ve been dying to play with this.