Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bouillabaise - JC100

This may be my favorite recipe of all time. That is saying a lot as a person who has a strong preference for the dessert course of any meal! Recipe number ten for the JC100 blogger event is another simple Julia dish packed with flavor. You will love it too if you love seafood! Even though there is an entire organization called Le Charte de la Bouillabaisse Marseillaise dedicated to preserving the traditional preparation of the dish, Bouillabaise, a mediterranean fish stew, can widely vary in preparation.  Living and growing up in New England, I have always enjoyed fish chowder, and the luxury of having fresh seafood anytime I want it.  Though we may not have every variety of fish required by the Bouillabaisse Marseillaise organization, you can easily find many delicious options specific to the region. Julia recommends; 

Ideally you should pick six or more varieties of fresh fish, which is why a bouillabaisse is at its best when made for at least six people. Some of the fish should be firm-fleshed and gelatinous like halibut, eel, and winter flounder and some tender and flaky like hake, baby cod, small pollock, and lemon sole. Shellfish are neither necessary nor particularly typical, but they always add glamor and colour if you wish to include them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Rock, Calico or Sea Bass
  • Cod or Lingcod
  • Flounder
  • Grouper
  • Grunt
  • Haddock
  • Hake or Whiting
  • Halibut
  • Lemon Sole
  • Perch
  • Pollock or Boston Bluefish
  • Porgy or Scup
  • Redfish or Red Drum
  • Scrod
  • Red or Gray Snapper
  • Spot
  • Fresh-water Trout; Sea Trout or Weakfish
  • Shellfish – Clams, Scallops, Mussels, Crab, Lobster
*Excerpted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Copyright © 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. Reprinted with permission from the publisher Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

For my preparation, I decided to combine the Bouillabaise and Soupe de Poisson (strained fish soup) techniques. Traditionally, the poisson is made using leftover fish parts to flavor the soup along with herbs and tomatoes, then strained using the broth to cook pasta served with the soup. I followed the preparation for the Soupe de Poisson, cooking the pasta in the strained broth, and served the seafood with the pasta and broth. The end result was a truly magnificent stew! For the seafood, I chose Hake, shrimp, and Moosabec Maine clams (seafood was purchased from Whole Foods).   It is suggested to serve the Soupe de Poisson with a red pepper Rouille, but the stew already had a great deal of flavor with the saffron, fennel, thyme. I also chose to use chicken broth instead of water. I may try the Rouille when making this dish again in the future. 

1lb Hake
1lb clams
1lb shrimp
1 fennel, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 medium onion, diced
salt and pepper
2 qts chicken stock
1 26oz can or carton of Pomi, chopped tomatoes
1 package of spaghetti (I used vegetable spaghetti from Whole Foods)
olive oil

Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium pot. Cook onions, fennel, carrots, and garlic on low heat for about five minutes. Add tomatoes, two generous pinches of saffron, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix and cook for a couple of minutes for spices to blend. Add chicken stock and seafood to pot. Bring to a slow boil and cook for 20-25 minutes. 

Strain broth and reserve seafood in separate bowl. Taste and season broth with more saffron or salt and pepper if required (I added one more generous pinch of saffron). The broth will be a beautiful reddish orange color and the pasta will absorb all of the wonderful flavors!

Layer first with pasta followed by seafood and finally the broth. Garnish with Fennel leaves.

So delicious!!

Be sure to have a nice french baguette for soaking up all of the broth! For wine, Julia suggests a rose, or a light, strong young red such as Côtes de Provence or Beaujolais, or a strong, dry, white wine from Côtes de Provence, or a Riesling. I served with a dry Chardonnay.  

Bon Appétit!

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