Tuesday, December 14, 2021

December 14, National Bouillabaisse Day, A Traditional Fish Stew

Bouillabaisse is a traditional fish stew originating in Provence. Commonly used vegetables include leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. The vegetables are simmered together with the broth and served with the fish. What makes a bouillabaisse different from other fish soups is the selection of herbs and spices in the broth and the way the fish are added one at a time, in a certain order, and brought to a boil.

Serves 6 (about 3 cups each)

8 cups water
3 (1 1/4-pound) whole lobsters
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups coarsely chopped celery
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped carrot
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups coarsely chopped tomato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1 pound skinned halibut fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
22 small clams, scrubbed
30 small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined


1. Using an 8 quart stockpot bring water to a boil.
2. Plunge lobsters headfirst into water. Return to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes.
3. Remove lobsters from water (do not drain); cool. Remove meat from cooked lobster tails and claws; cut into 1-inch pieces, reserving shells.
4. Cover and refrigerate lobster meat.
5. Return reserved shells to water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Drain through a colander over a large bowl, reserving broth; discard shells. Wipe pan dry with a paper towel.
6. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.
7. Add reserved broth, tomato, saffron, thyme, pepper, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. 
8. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Discard bay leaves.
9. Bring to a boil; add halibut, reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. 
10. Add clams; cook 1 minute. 
11. Add mussels; cook 2 minutes. 
12. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes. Bring to a boil. 
13. Add reserved lobster meat; cook until thoroughly heated. 
14. Discard unopened shells.

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