Location: San Mateo, CA
|Inspired by Salty_Dog I took a 15" Kelp Rockfish and 15" Grass Rockfish and decided to put together a basic bouillabaisse. Traditionally, bouillabaisse requires quite a few varieties of fish and shellfish. However, at its root a bouillabaisse is a traditional fisherman's stew that should use whatever is that day's catch. So other than some clams (which I like because they add their juices to the broth), this is a very basic fisherman's stew. Do not be scared off by the number of ingredients or the length of the recipe. This recipe takes no more than an hour and half from start to finish and can probably be done in closer to an hour if you are organized.
2 whole rockfish (not more than 1 day old)
1 cup leeks roughly chopped
1 cup onions roughly chopped
8 to 10 whole peppercorns
1/2 cup celery roughly chopped
1 cup dry white vermouth
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 or 3 sprigs fresh thyme (or a teaspoon of dried thyme)
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup leeks julienned (about two inch long length wise strips)
2 or 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/2 cup fennel julienned (or a tsp of fennel seeds)
2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish)
small pinch saffron strands (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1b clams
1/2 cup dry white vermouth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups chopped tomatoes (if not in season use whole canned tomatoes and chop them up)
1 slice white bread, torn into 1" pieces.
1/2 sweet red bell pepper, roughly chopped.
1/2 cup good olive oil
1 tablespoon fish broth
2 or 3 cloves of crushed garlic, to taste
splash of white wine vinegar
salt to taste
Filet the rockfish reserving the heads and bodies.
Chop the filets into 2 inch chunks and set aside.
For the fish broth:
In a large pot heat up about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat.
Add the leeks, onions, celery, thyme, and garlic to the pot. Saute until leeks and onions are softened.
Turn up the heat and add the vermouth, cook until the alcohol is mostly burnt off.
Add the fish heads and bodies and add water until completely submerged.
Add the peppercorns and bring the broth to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer for a half hour.
Remove from heat, strain the broth discarding the remaining solids, and set aside.
For the Rouille:
Place the bread, red bell pepper, garlic and broth into a food processor.
Blend the solid ingredients until smooth.
Slowly add the olive oil to the mixture while the food processor is running.
After the oil is completely incorporated season with white wine vinegar and salt.
Place in a small serving container for later.
For the Bouillabaisse:
Rinse out the pot used for the broth and dry it throughly.
Place it on the stove over medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil
When the olive oil is hot, add the leeks, fennel, garlic, parsley and thyme and saute until the leeks and fennel are softened.
Add the tomato paste and saute with the vegetables until everything is well-coated
Add the vermouth and bring to a boil.
Add the tomatoes and the saffron and about 6 cups of the fish broth.
Bring up to a boil and then turn down to a simmer for 10 or 15 minutes.
If you want, you can stop the soup making process here and either refrigerate the broth or leave it on the stove at a simmer (you may need to add some additional water as it evaporates). If you refrigerate the soup, bring it back up to a boil and continue from there.
I'm somewhat finicky about my fish and I hate it when it is overcooked. The next set of instructions is extra work and is not a necessity if you are less finicky about fish than I am.
Bring the soup back up to a boil and add the clams.
As the clams open up, fish them out of the soup and reserve them.
Lower the heat to simmer and add the fish that was cut into two inch chunks.
Remove the fish chunks just before they are cooked through (they will continue to cook once they are removed from the soup) and reserve.
Add salt and pepper to the soup to taste.
Remove the soup from the heat.
Place the reserved fish and clams into the bottom of a shallow bowl.
Ladle in just enough broth to cover.
Sprinkle with a bit of parsley.
Serve with the rouille and some crusty french bread on the side.
If there is any fish broth left over, let it cool and place it in plastic containers so you can freeze it for later. You can use it as a base for various sauces and soups when you don't want to make it from scratch.
The bouillabaisse should also freeze well, especially if you cook the fish 'separately' as I mention above. Then the next time you catch some fish, just defrost the soup and cook the fish in the broth and you have another dinner.
Fish on the end of my line appear only as hallucinations ...