I wrote this post back in May when I was in the midst of cooking classes, the stage at a restaurant, and working at sweetriot . Things haven’t really slowed down but I’m finally getting back to blogging and have finished this post! (Only took a few months!)
My busy schedule has precluded me from cooking lately but my recent trip back to LA gave me a chance to play around in my own kitchen with my own toys again. The inspiration came from the May issue of Gourmet magazine (a generous gift from my friend Dan that keeps on giving!). I’ve often ordered bouillabaisse at restaurants but never tried making it before. Reading through the recipe I noticed a few opportunities to try some new techniques that I’d learned in my cooking class.
This recipe, while it requires setting aside a little time, makes a delicious meal that is perfect for entertaining. In retrospect there’s also a lot of room for experimenting with different combinations of seafood. The recipe called for one whole lobster but I could only get frozen lobster tails and they ended up saving me a lot of time too!
This recipe is adapted from the May 2007 issue of Gourmet magazine
1/2 baguette cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 garlic clove
1 (1 to 1 1/4 lb.) lobster
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds (I also chopped and added the fennel to the stew as well – optional)
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
9 cups fish stock (I didn’t have fish stock so I used vegetable stock and it was great!)
3 lbs. white fish fillets (such as monkfish, cod, red snapper, turbot, striped bass) cut into 2 inch pieces – I used 3 fillets of red snapper
1/2 lb. small clams, scrubbed (I used little neck clams)
1/2 lb. Mussels, scrubbed and beards removed – the beard is just that part on some mussels that looks like a little bit of seaweed or something and it’s what the shells use to stick to rocks (I used 1 lb. mussels)
1/2 lb. Shrimp (recipe calls for shells on but I used frozen shrimp that had shells removed but still had tails on)
For the croutons:
To make the croutons, put the slices of baguette on a baking sheet and brush the tops with olive oil bake at 250 F for about 30 minutes or until golden. Rub each side with fresh garlic (to do this slice a clove of garlic cross-wise and rub the cut part along the hot crusty bread – it adds such amazing flavor.)
To make the soup:
1) Put the lobster tail into a sized pot that will adequately hold the tail you have. Place the uncooked lobster into the boiling water and then cook covered for 3-7 minutes depending on the size of the tail. Transfer lobster to a colander and allow to cool. (Because I used lobster tails it made the process of extracting the meat a less intensive process). Extract the lobster meat and set aside.
2) Cook the tomatoes, onion, and garlic in oil over a medium heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened, 5-7 minutes.
3) Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Stir the potatoes into the tomatoes with the fennel fronds (and fennel if you choose to add), bay leaf, saffron, sea salt, and pepper. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer, covered until potatoes are tender – about 10 minutes.
4) Add the thicker pieces of fish first (have a longer cooking time) – cover and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mussels, shrimp, lobster, and any other fish – cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.
5) Stir a few tablespoons of the broth into the rouille (recipe below).
6) Arrange a crouton in each soup bowl and ladle in the bouillabaisse being sure that each bowl gets an assortment of the bountiful fish.
7) Top each bowl with a spoonful of rouille (it’s spicy so be aware!).
For the rouille:
This is a bread mixture that will be added to the stew to thicken it and add a little spicy heat.
3 Tablespoons broth from the bouillabaisse
3/4 cups bread crumbs (I recommend panko which are Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 tablespoons olive oil
1) Pour the broth from the bouillabaisse over bread crumbs in a bowl.
2) Mash up garlic and sea salt and cayenne in a mortar and pestle*.
3) Add moist bread crumbs w/ garlic paste – add oil in a slow stream, mashing and stirring until well combined.
*If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can just use a large knife to mince and mash. Mashing garlic is achieved using the side of the blade on the finely minced garlic.