Bouillabaisse is a seafood stew that hails from Marseille in France's southern Provence region. Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea, this region has abundant seafood. The dish was originally a stew prepared by fishermen using seafood that they could not sell at market. A variety of seafood can be used, but it is typically made with a combination of shellfish and fish.
The fragrant broth, which includes onions, leeks, fennel, garlic, saffron and cayenne, is the true hallmark of the dish, and a crusty baguette makes the perfect accompaniment for soaking it up. Traditionally, the bread is topped with a homemade mayonnaise spread.
This simple version of bouillabaisse is slightly less labor intensive than more traditional recipes but, with an abundance of flavor, it will help you celebrate National Bouillabaisse Day the right way!
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced fennel bulb
- 1½ cups thinly sliced leeks, whites only
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 diced cloves garlic
- 1 cup diced beefsteak tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of saffron
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne
- 4 cups seafood or fish stock
- 1 16-ounce lobster tail (optional)
- 2 cups fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered into similar sizes
- 2 dozen littleneck clams
- 2 pounds sturdy white fish (such as rockfish, monkfish, halibut, or cod), cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 dozen mussels
- 8 ounces scallops
- In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, fennel and leeks. Season with salt. Cook until translucent. Add tomato and garlic and cook until tomatoes become soft. Add bay leaves, cayenne and saffron and cook for 2 minutes. Add fish stock. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove bay leaves.
- Add broth and vegetables to a blender or food processor. Puree into a loose, chunky sauce. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer. Place strained broth back into large pot. Discard the vegetables.
- In a separate pot, boil lobster until shell is bright red, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add fingerling potatoes to boiling water and cook until soft, then remove. Once lobster has cooled, remove lobster meat from tail and claws.
- In large pot, heat broth to a simmer. Add clams and cook for 2 minutes, covered. Add fish pieces and mussels. Recover pot and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Add lobster and potatoes, recover, and cook for 2 more minutes to heat through.
- Portion the bouillabaisse into 6 dishes. Serve with toasted baguette.