This recipe comes from Marseilles, where the bragging rights for the best bouillabaisse are tightly contested.
This hearty fisherman’s stew is fragrant and sumptuous, with the rich, garlicky overtones of its Mediterranean roots – an ideal combination of root vegetables, fish, and shellfish including oysters, mussels, and shrimp, as well as lobster.
The key is in using the freshest seafood available in your region – and if you can’t find the exact seafood listed, improvise! It’s very adaptable.
3large tomatoespeeled, seeds squeezed out and coarsely chopped
2leekswhites only, finely julienned
1poundpotatoescut into bite sized chunks
4medium carrotssliced diagonally into 1/2” pieces
1 1/2tablespoonssea salt
1teaspoonfresh ground black pepper
4cupshot fish stock
2poundswhite fish fillets*bones removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2poundsmall hard-shelled clamssuch as Littleneck, scrubbed
1/2poundmusselsscrubbed and any beards removed
1/2poundprawns in shells
1/2poundlobster meatcut into 1” pieces
3/4cupcoarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguettecrust removed
3tablespoonsextra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees F. Prepare the baguette croutons by removing the crusts, brush lightly with olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes then rub on one side with fresh garlic. Set aside until the stew is ready.
In a large Dutch oven, cook the tomatoes, onion, leeks and garlic in oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and cut into bite sized cubes. Stir the potatoes and carrots into the tomato mix and add the tomato paste, fennel, bay leaf, saffron, parsley, sea salt, and pepper.
Add the hot fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add any thicker pieces of fish, scallops and clams and simmer covered for 2 minutes. Stir in the mussels, shrimp, lobster, and remaining fish then simmer, covered another 5 minutes and the mussels have opened wide.
Stir approximately 3 tablespoons of broth from the stew into the roux until smooth and well blended.
Arrange a layer of croutons in wide, shallow bowls. With a slotted spoon, transfer the seafood onto the croutons then ladle some hot broth and vegetables around the edges of the croutons. Add a dollop of rouille over the top and serve immediately.
In a small mixing bowl, pour the water over bread crumbs. Mash garlic with the flat edge of a chef’s knife and mix into a paste with the sea salt and cayenne. Add to the moistened bread crumbs with the Dijon mustard, mixing all into a garlic paste.
Slowly add the oil in a thin stream, vigorously mixing with a fork until well combined.
Add a dollop of the Rouille over top of the bouillabaisse just before serving, and serve the rest on the side with crusty French bread.
*Such as red snapper, halibut, cod or scallops – or any combination.
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.