Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Bouillabaisse ~ "What makes a bouillabaisse different from other fish soups is the selection of Provençal herbs and spices in the broth; the use of bony local Mediterranean fish; the way the fish are added one at a time, in a certain order, and brought to a boil; and the method of serving. In Marseille, the broth is served first in a bowl containing the bread and rouille, with the seafood and vegetables served separately in another bowl or on a platter."

"According to tradition, the origins of the dish date back to the time of the Phoceans, an Ancient Greek people who founded Marseille in 600 BC. Then, the population ate a simple fish stew known in Greek as 'kakavia.' Something similar to Bouillabaisse also appears in Roman mythology: it is the soup that Venus fed to Vulcan."

"The dish known today as bouillabaisse was created by Marseille fishermen who wanted to make a meal when they returned to port. Rather than using the more expensive fish, they cooked the common rockfish and shellfish that they pulled up with their nets and lines, usually fish that were too bony to serve in restaurants, cooking them in a cauldron of sea water on a wood fire and seasoning them with garlic and fennel. Tomatoes were added to the recipe in the 17th century, after their introduction from America."

"In the 19th century, as Marseille became more prosperous, restaurants and hotels began to serve bouillabaisse to upper-class patrons. The recipe of bouillabaisse became more refined, with the substitution of fish stock for boiling water, and the addition of saffron. Bouillabaisse spread from Marseille to Paris, and then gradually around the world, adapted to local ingredients and tastes."

"The name bouillabaisse comes from the method of the preparation - the ingredients are not added all at once. The broth is first boiled [bolh] then the different kinds of fish are added one by one, and each time the broth comes to a boil, the heat is lowered [abaissa]."

"Generally similar dishes are found in Portugal [caldeirada], Spain [sopa de pescado y marisco, suquet de peix], Italy [zuppa di pesce], Greece and all the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea; where these kind of dishes have been made since the Neolithic Era."

Bouillabaisse Photo By Stu Spivak Wikimedia Commons/Flickr
From wikiHOW

Bouillabaisse Recipe

1/2 cup of olive oil
1 cup of chopped onion
1 cup of leek
4 cloves of garlic, mashed
3 large, ripe tomatoes
2 1/2 quarts of water
Sprigs of fresh basil, parsley, thyme, and fennel fronds

1/2 teaspoon of saffron
1 tablespoon of sea salt
3 to 4 pounds of fish heads, bones, trimmings
1 1/2 pounds of peeled shrimp and their shells
1 1/2 pounds of wild cod chunks

1 1/2 pounds of halibut chunks
1 1/2 pounds of sole chunks
1 1/2 pounds of debearded, scrubbed mussels or clams
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. anise liquor such as Ouzo or Pernod
Fresh bread or garlic bread

In some recipes, tomato paste mixed with anise liquor is added to the stew. To do this, strain out the fish before serving. Mix 2 tbsp. of tomato paste with 2 tbsp. of anise liquor such as Ouzo or Pernod, and whisk this mixture into the stew before serving.

2 tall pots are needed to prepare the bouillabaisse. Pour the olive oil into one of the cooking pots and heat it over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and leek until they're soft and slightly translucent. Stir in the garlic. Let it cook for approximately 1 minute until it releases its fragrance. Add the salt, saffron, fresh herbs, tomatoes, water, as well as the fish heads, bones, trimmings and shrimp shells. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat slightly until the stew slowly bubbles, but does not boil. Allow the stew to cook for 30 minutes.

Strain the stew over the second cooking pot. Take the solids out of the strainer and discard them. Put the second pot, now holding the strained stew, on the stove and bring the stew to a boil so the olive oil thoroughly mixes into the rest of the stew instead of floating on top.

Add the shrimp and let them cook for 1-to-2 minutes until they turn pink. Add the wild cod, halibut and sole as well as the mussels or clams. Cover the stew and let it simmer. Check it every few minutes to see if the mussels or clams have opened. Taste the stew. If necessary, add extra salt or pepper, or whatever herb is your personal preference. Serve the bouillabaisse with fresh bread or toasted garlic bread.

Text Credits: Wikipedia wikiHOW
Image Credit: Flickr

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