Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille, in the South of France. This flavorful and aromatic dish has a rich history dating back to ancient Greece and Rome. Over the centuries, it has evolved into a beloved classic of French cuisine, enjoyed by food lovers around the world. The dish is made with a variety of fish, shellfish, and other seafood, simmered in a broth with vegetables, olive oil, and a mix of herbs and spices. Served with a side of crusty bread or rouille, a garlicky mayonnaise-like sauce, bouillabaisse is a hearty and comforting meal.
Recipe for Bouillabaisse:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 leeks, white and light green parts, cleaned and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 fennel bulb, chopped
- 1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 cup white wine
- 8 cups fish stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds firm white fish (such as sea bass, snapper, or halibut), cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 pound squid, cleaned and sliced into rings (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, celery, garlic, and fennel, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, fish stock, bay leaf, saffron, thyme, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- While the broth is simmering, prepare the seafood. Rinse the fish chunks and pat them dry, then season them with salt and pepper. Scrub the mussels and remove any beards, discarding any that do not close when tapped. Peel and devein the shrimp, and clean and slice the squid, if using.
- Once the broth has simmered, add the chunks of fish to the pot and cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the mussels, shrimp, and squid (if using), and cook for an additional 5 minutes, or until the mussels have opened, the shrimp are pink and opaque, and the squid is tender.
- Discard the bay leaf and any unopened mussels. Stir in the chopped parsley and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- To serve, ladle the bouillabaisse into large bowls and accompany it with crusty bread or rouille for dipping.
This recipe for bouillabaisse captures the essence of the traditional Provençal dish, offering a symphony of flavors and textures from the various types of seafood, aromatic vegetables, and fragrant herbs and spices. Savor this classic French stew as a special treat or for a special occasion, and experience a taste of the Mediterranean.