Last week we started out with a very simple yet delicious French cuisine dish, this week we’re elevating to something a little more complicated, a recipe from Marseille, la Bouillabaisse. Marseille is the second biggest city of France after Paris, the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region and the oldest city in France (it was founded by the Phoenicians in 600 BC)! Its economy has always evolved around the port, both for the trade and for the transportation. Today Marseille is one of the most visited cities in France because of its naturally beautiful landscapes and breathtaking coastal scenery, the art scene, the restaurants and the cafes that extend along the port.
La Bouillabaisse A La Marseillaise is a traditional dish similar to a seafood stew made with at least five kinds of fish (or seven, the more the better!), a classic Mediterranean recipe that originated from the lower class as a meal for the fishermen returning from their trips. Initially they used shellfish and rockfish that restaurants refused to serve, eventually, as the city developed in its richness, more ingredients were added to refine the recipe and the dish started to be served in restaurants for the upper class.
Like many other dishes, Bouillabaisse‘s rich flavor is the anthem for Summer, but since we’re almost at the end of Summer, we’re sure that its savory, garlicky, seafood and herbs combination will take you back to those sunny days with just one sip!
Ingredients (serves 6):
3 pounds of at least 3 different kinds of fish fillets, fresh or quick frozen (thaw first)
1/2 cup Olive oil
1-2 pounds of Oysters, clams, or mussels
1 cup cooked shrimp, crab, or lobster meat, or rock lobster tails
1 cup thinly sliced onions
4 Shallots, thinly sliced OR the white parts of 2 or 3 leeks, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned tomatoes
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2-inch slice of fennel or 1 teaspoon of fennel seed
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
2-3 whole cloves
Zest of half an orange
1/2 teaspoon powdered saffron
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup clam juice or fish broth
2 Tbps lemon juice
2/3 cup white wine
Sliced French bread
Put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large saucepan. Once it’s hot add and sauté for about a minute onions and shallots. Add the garlic and sweet red pepper, followed by tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir for a few minutes. Add another 1/4 cup of olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, cloves and orange zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden.
Cut fish fillets into 2-inch pieces. Add them and 2 cups of water to the vegetable mixture . Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes (in French Bouillabaisse is a combination of the verbs bolhir, to boil, and abaissar, to reduce the heat). Add the rest of the seafood: oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, crabmeat, lobster tails (you can choose other types of fish and shellfish as long as they are super fresh!).
Add saffron, salt and pepper. Add clam juice, lemon juice and white wine. Let it simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Serve hot with a crisp slice of French bread, and..