After all the delicious overindulgence of the holidays, we have a recipe for you that’s full of goodness but light and healthy – bouillabaisse (pronounced BOO-ya-baze).
This delightful seafood soup originated in Marseilles in the south of France. It is traditionally flavoured with olive oil, garlic, saffron, bay, fennel and orange peel, and includes at least three kinds of fish found in their waters, such as scorpionfish, sea robin and conger. But over the years, the popularity of bouillabaisse spread all over the world and now all sorts of fish are included. Bouillabaisse is traditionally served with a “rouille” (pronounced ROO-wee), a kind of spicy mayonnaise. We’ve included a recipe for it here, though we often serve bouillabaisse simply with crusty bread or croutons for sopping up all the wonderful broth.
Special Ingredient Note: This recipe calls for saffron, an exotic burnt-red spice with a floral quality (it actually is the stigmas of crocus flowers). You may have to visit a specialty grocery or bulk food store to find it. The recipe is still delicious without the saffron, though, and a pinch each of paprika and tumeric will make a sufficient substitution.
Bouillabaisse (This is suggested seafood – use what you like or have on hand.)
up to 1/2 cup olive oil
½ lb shell-on shrimp (larger, imported ones such as tiger shrimp)
1 (1 /12 lb) lobster
½ lb cod or halibut, cut into 1-inch chunks
½ lb salmon, cut into 1-inch chunks
½ lb coldwater shrimp
½ lb bay scallops (the smaller local ones)
1 lb mussels, cleaned
1 med, onion, diced (keep skin and trimmings for stock)
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced (keep trimmings for stock)
4-6 large cloves garlic, minced
1 bulb fennel (or 3-4 stalks celery), diced (keep leafy parts for stock)
1 green pepper, diced
2 tbsp flour
2 carrots, diced
4 potatoes, peeled, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
4 bay leaves
3-4 strips orange peel (use a potato peeler to get peel)
generous pinch saffron (or pinch each of paprika and tumeric)
6 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp fennel seed
pinch ground allspice
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1 cup white wine
Time saver tip: While lobster boils, shell the shrimp and while the fish stock is simmering, prepare fish and vegetables.
Begin by making fish stock. Boil the lobster in salted water for about 10 min. (it will finish cooking in the soup). Remove meat from shell and cut into bite-sized pieces; set aside with other seafood (reserve shell for the stock). Throw out lobster water – it will taste of rubber bands! Remove shells from large shrimp and set shrimp aside with other seafood (reserve shells for stock).
In a medium pot over med.-high heat, add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add orange peel, two of the bay leaves, half the fennel seed and half the thyme. Add shrimp and lobster shells plus trimmings of the onion, leek and fennel/celery; stir a few minutes till shrimp shells turn pink. Splash in half the wine and let burn off. Add half the saffron and enough water to cover the shells (6-8 cups). Return to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 min. Strain stock through a fine sieve.
In a large pot, heat 3-4 tbsp olive oil over med.-high heat. Add onion, leeks, fennel/celery, green peppers and remaining herbs and spices, except saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally until veggies are wilted. Add garlic and fry 1-2 min. till fragrant. Add flour and stir a couple of minutes. Add wine and reduce a few minutes. Add fish stock, tomatoes, saffron, potatoes and carrots. Simmer till veggies are nearly done, about 10 min. Remove bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Add water if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Add mussels, cod and salmon; cook 3-5 min. Add shrimp, scallops and lobster; cook another 3-5 min. till everything is heated through. Be careful not to break up the fish when stirring. (Discard any mussels that don’t open.)