What are you cooking for Valentine's Day?
Here's a nice dish that is special enough to make for the occasion.
A beautiful Mediterranean seafood stew known in France as Bouillabaisse.
This was my first time making this lovely dish.
I looked thru a lot of French cookbooks and websites and combined a few recipes.
I highly recommend making your own fish stock.....it's super easy, took me only 15 minutes.
I used shrimp shells only, no fish heads or eyeballs ;)
I always have frozen shrimp and scallops in the freezer so that was a no brainer.....and I had a random piece of frozen cod, which I cut up.
This was worth the effort and so delicious! So light and tasty, we loved it.
It makes enough for 4 large bowls.
Bouillabaisse (adapted from this recipe):
For the stock:
5 cups water
1/2 lb. shrimp, with tails and shells
1 bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
peel from 1 orange
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp teaspoon kosher salt
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, fonds reserved
1 small onion, diced
1 large leek, white part only, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 plum tomatoes, skins and seeds removed and diced (I used 4 canned plum tomatoes)
1 cup dry white wine (I used Chablis)
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/2 tsp saffron threads
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. cod cut into 1 inch wide strips
1/2 lb. clams, mussels or scallops
For the shrimp stock:
Peel and clean the shrimp, reserving the shrimp shells and tails. Bring the water to a simmer and add the shrimp shells, bay leaf, peppercorns, and orange peel to the pot and simmer gently for 15 minutes. It will smell so nice!
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed soup pan. Add the onion, leek, and fennel bulb and a pinch of salt, and slowly sweat them until tender but not browned (about 20 minutes).
Add the garlic, saute a few more minutes until garlic is tender and fragrant.
Add the tomato and the wine. Turn up the heat until the wine begins to boil. Cook until wine is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes.
Strain the shrimp and orange stock into the onion and fennel mixture into the pot. Add the thyme, saffron, and cayenne and simmer for 10 minutes, until the flavors come together. Season with kosher salt & pepper.
Add the cod first and cook for 5 minutes. If using, add the mussels and clams. About two minutes later add the shrimp and scallops.
Simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through. About two more minutes.
Taste and adjust seasonings.....mine did not need any additional salt.
Remove from heat and serve immediately, garnishing each bowl with some reserved fennel fronds.
If you have leftover bouillabaisse, serve over linguine! It was fantastic!
Years ago in a restaurant on Rue d’Antibes in Cannes, we had their “fish soup” (their version of bouilliabaise). I have tried to figure out what gave it an unusual “blending” taste. It had to have been orange peel. It was wonderful!!!
(So was Cannes. The film festival was going and John Travolta’s “Saturday Night Fever” was the hit of the season - it was that long ago! And who should come strutting toward us down that same Rue d’Antibes? JT himself. Be still my heart! :-)
Food and places. The greatest memories.
The fish broth was soooo good, and yes, orange peel! It made the dish sing!