Bouillabaisse of France

Our final adventure in the world of French cuisine (for the time being). This was the grand finale for several reasons: it contained the most ingredients, was the most expensive, and we happen to love seafood. Looooove. We loved our Coq au vin, Boeuf bourguignon, even the humble Ratatouille, but this was the apple of our eye. For Spencer and I’s two year anniversary, we opted out of going to a restaurant and instead, made this classic French seafood stew. Being long distance for our one year anniversary made this day even more memorable.


This dish was full of firsts: first time cooking lobster, clams or mussels (almost forgot to clean them properly)… first time cooking with scallops… first time using clam juice… first time cooking with saffron.

The original Bouillabaisse, however, is different than this particular recipe. If you were to go to Marseille, where the seamen first concocted a less distinguished seafood stew, you’d get an array of seafood specific to the Mediterranean. Also, the fish would be served separately from the broth; Julia Child is known to recommend this method. This isn’t the first time we’ve had to substitute or vary from the original recipe – sometimes ingredients are found only in their place of origin. We couldn’t even get the fresh seafood this recipe asked for in Toledo, so we improvised a bit, adding lobster, shrimp and different kinds of light fish.

When we find another special occasion to celebrate, I cannot wait to bring out this recipe again. C’est BON.

Fish Soup Base Ingredients

  • Minced leek
  • Minced Onion
  • Garlic cloves, smashed
  • Tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 qt water
  • 6 parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Thyme or basil
  • Fennel
  • 2 big pinches of saffron
  • Dried orange peel
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Lean fish (fish heads, bones, trimmings, shell fish remains) OR
  • 1 qt clam juice + 1 1/2 qt water

Bouillabaisse Ingredients

  • 1 Halibut steak
  • 1 large fillet red snapper
  • 2 large scallops
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 clams
  • Rounds of toasted French bread
  • Fresh parsley roughly chopped

For the Rouille

  • Red Bell pepper (simmered) or canned pimento
  • 1 small chili pepper (boiled) or drops of Tabasco
  • 1 med potato
  • Garlic cloves, smashed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 T hot soup


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