When you think of Marseille what comes to your mind? Mischief, Sailors, Debauchery, Vice, Vulgarity and of course Bouillabaisse, Marseilles is one, if not the oldest city in France. The history of this seaport city goes back to the days of Julius Caesar and Pompey. Marseilles has weathered time and has become outside of Paris a Cultural Center. This is not the Marseilles of “French Connection” fame.
Enough digressing let me give you what you really want: The World Famous Bouillabaisse ala Endre Barath Marina Del Rey Style. Since I do not want to insult, the great Seaport and their Residents that I was not “true” to their time tested recipe hence, I had to add this disclaimer’s
First let’s address the main ingredient: Fish Stock. This is generally made with tiny, flavorsome fish, generally to many bones and not enough meat on them. Since we are not in the Mediterranean seaport, we have to have substitutes. Recommend fish heads, frames, bones and tails. Try relatively bland fish such as (whiting, halibut) I am lucky I go to King Harbor in Redondo Beach. (Try to find a fishmonger and get as many small to medium fish heads and tails at a great price.) Try not to use, mackerel, sardines or bluefish they are too oily.
Ingredients: ½ of olive oil, 2 large onions ( I like sweet onions), 2-3 leeks (whites only), 4-6 cloves of garlic, crushed, the fish & heads and bones, 1lbs can of plum tomatoes( or fresh ripe plum tomatoes if in season), Orange Zest (strip of rind without the whites), 1-2 celery stalks (cut in pieces) 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme( or if none available get the dried version about a couple of tea spoons ) 3-4 bay leaves and ½ a teaspoon of cayenne pepper or any medium hot red pepper. A pinch or two of Saffron and a cup of Pernod or if none available cognac will do as well. And fresh black pepper either ground or cracked and four quarts of boiling water
Here are the steps to prepare the fish stock : 1. Heat the olive oil, 2. Saute the onions, leeks and garlic for about 10 minutes or so than add the fish parts ….stir aggressively without regard for concern for crushing the material until the fish peaces start falling apart.3. Then add the tomatoes, orange zest, celery and the seasonings (thyme, pepper etc) lower the heat as not to burn them and as the flavors blend together 4. Pour the boiling water over all the material and simmer for about 20-30minutes.
Most important step 5. Pour the mixture through a chi-noise or a food mill, with small quantities of fish scraps and the vegetable, press hard squeezing the material to get the “stock” do not quit early squeeze every drop out (that is where the flavors are). This is physically and timely consuming.
Once you are satisfied that you got most of the Stock to be had, discard the fish scraps. This juice is your foundation of the Bouillabaisse.
Now step 6. take shrimp, mussels, clams and a relatively inexpensive fish fillets like rock fish (about a pound of each) in a separate container steam the mussels and clams in water (save juice for later, do not add to the stock). Discard shells of the mussels, clams and shrimp.
Here is where I vary from the traditional bouillabaisse; I take about a pound or so potatoes (Yukon gold is my preferred), carrots, and mushrooms & asparagus and cook them in the Stock once satisfied that they are edible then I add the fish fillet and the mussels, clams and shrimp.I also add a bit of cheese Tortellini too:)
I serve it with preferably French bread and fresh parsley on top and if you like heat, add a bit of hot pepper or sauce (not too much). Bon appetite! (as Julia Child would say)
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