Monday, September 19, 2011

Bouillabaisse

Some people might say this dish should be called fish stew.

I had always thought bouillabaisse was a peasant dish that fishing families made with the bounty of their catch and there were as many variations as there were families and types of fish.

I have learned that there are those out there that are a little fussy about what qualifies as bouillabaisse--especially since I am not using *gasp* white fish.

I loved what Helen wrote in her 2005 Bouillabaisse (or whatever you want to call it) post about the Bouillabaisse Police.

"When looking for a Bouillabaisse recipe in US, you’ll quickly learn that there is a Bouillabaisse police. If they could give out violation tickets for using the name of this holy soup in vain, they would. You used mussels in your broth – $50! You didn’t fly in the appropriate varieties of fish from the Mediterranean -- $100! ...Don’t even get me started on what makes authentic Bouillabaisse – I don’t care."


I don't have a set recipe, I don't know (or, like Helen, particularly care) what is authentic--I generally use whatever I feel like putting in it, or what is available.



In any and all ways, bouillabaisse is a favorite at our house.

At one time, it was our go-to dish for special occasions--and we had it with our extended family every Christmas day.

Now we have shabu-shabu for special occasions, and I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this dish. 

I'll have to make it more often and be sure to invite my friends that love it--the more people you have, the bigger the pot and the more kinds of seafood you can have!




The key to making good bouillabaisse is to make it with seafood you like.

I don't care for mussels, so I don't add them--but I have friends that love them and say they are a must--so use what you like.

Traditionally, the fish used is a white fish, but my family loves salmon and I've been using salmon for the last few years with rave results.



Adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Ingredients:

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 large leek, rinsed thoroughly and chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups canned tomato puree
3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 bay leaves
4-6 cups water or stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

3 to 6 tablespoons butter mixed with 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 heaping teaspoon saffron threads

an assortment of fish such as:

cherrystone or manila clams, scrubbed
raw shrimp
crab
fish--sea bass, snapper, cod or salmon
scallops 
lobster



Saute the chopped leek, onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and garlic in olive oil until soft and lightly colored.



Add the canned tomato puree and fresh chopped tomatoes along with the wine, and bay leaves.



Then I zipped about a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves off the stems and added them to the pot.



Simmer for about 30 minutes.



Then add the chopped parsley.



Season with salt and pepper.

Taste the broth.



I added a tablespoon of brown sugar and some water to balance the flavors.

Balance the flavors according to your tastes.

Turn heat to low or turn the heat off until just before you're ready to serve.



Scrub the outside of the clams with a vegetable brush.

Then I broke apart a dungeness crab.



Scale the fish if it has the skin still on it, and cut it into bite-sized pieces.

Also prepare the shrimp by removing the shell and tail if desired.



Use 3 to 6 tablespoons (depending on how rich you like the broth) softened butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon flour.

I usually use about 4 tablespoons butter.



Mix the butter and flour together until it's a nice smooth paste.



When you're about ready to serve, return the pot to a simmer and whisk in the butter/flour mixture.



Then add the saffron threads.

This is my favorite part of this dish. 

I love the smell and flavor of saffron.



Add the seafood and gently cook for about 5 minutes or until the clams have opened and the shrimp is pink and curled.

Skim the foam.

Ladle into warm bowls and arrange the seafood on top.



Chiffonade some basil and add as garnish.



Chives make a nice garnish too.

Serve with a green salad, some hot rice or crusty bread.


Itadakimasu!




***





If you've been following along, last week I introduced you to my brothers.

Warren, Gordon and Ken.


Warren is our family's fisherman.



This is a picture of Warren, me and Gordon fishing in the Sierras when we were little.

We must be attempting to show off a fish we've caught.

I'm sure we couldn't have been fighting.



If we were fighting, I would have been mad.



Warren's my buddy.



He's smart and has a lot of talents.



Warren is a mountain biker.

That's their dog, Lucy.



Warren's also what I'd call a Foodie.

He knows what's good and is always going out to restaurants to try different things.



Warren loves fishing.

For a while, he fished in the bass circuit.



He's good at trout fishing, too.

He knows where all the big fish are in Gull Lake and Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierras.



He grew his hair out for several years.



But got it cut recently for his son's wedding.



He looked nice.

And 20 years younger with short hair.



He recently went deep sea fishing for three days and won the jackpot fish each day.

He's really good at fishing.



***


Adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Ingredients:

about 1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 large leek, rinsed thoroughly and chopped
1 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups canned tomato puree
3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
2 bay leaves
4-6 cups water or stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

3 to 6 tablespoons butter mixed with 1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 heaping teaspoon saffron threads

an assortment of fish such as:

cherrystone or manila clams, scrubbed
raw shrimp, shells removed
crab, shells cracked & broken apart
fish--sea bass, snapper, cod or salmon--cleaned and cut bite-sized
scallops 
lobster, cut into pieces


Prepare seafood and set aside.

Saute the vegetables and garlic in olive oil, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, about 30 minutes.

Add the tomato puree, fresh chopped tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, thyme and parsley. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and adjust seasonings, adding 1 tablespoon brown sugar and water if necessary.

Mix 3-6 tablespoons of softened butter (depending on how rich you like it) with 1 tablespoon flour into a smooth paste.

Whisk into simmering soup and add a heaping teaspoon of saffron threads.

Add the seafood and gently cook for about 5 minutes or until the clams have opened, the fish is firm and the shrimp is pink and curled. Do not overcook. Garnish with basil, parsley or chives.

Ladle into warm bowl and serve with a green salad, hot rice or bread.

6 comments:

  1. Any leftovers? I'm hungry! That looks sooooo good. This is the post I've been waiting for, Karolyn makes the best Bouilliabaisse this side of the Mississippi! I'm going to attempt to make it after payday....ingredients look a little pricey.

    ReplyDelete
  2. MMmmmmmm.... Looks so tasty!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow! Bouillabaisse looks incredible!!!!! Some crusty, garlicy, bread....yum, yum, yum!!!!!!

    Like the video!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I do appreciate the originality of the dish, but food/recipes are meant to be deconstructed, and reconstructed, I've had the food authority crack a whip on me for altering Coq au vin! lol (I added peas and bacon on top to make the dish look more appealing).

    ReplyDelete
  5. Warren seems to be such a great guy. Love the photos, they were so moving... the bouillabaisse looks really great I can imagine the sweet aroma while you were preparing it :)

    ReplyDelete