Rich in legend, bouillabaisse is loved the world over
BOUILLABAISSE, pronounced “boo-yah-behss”, is a Mediterranean seafood stew which is said to have originated from Marseilles. Ancient fishermen combined unsellable rockfish and shellfish in a cauldron of garlic and fennel for a feed when they returned to port.
Another apocryphal story in Roman mythology was that Venus served bouillabaisse to her husband Vulcan, which put him to sleep, so she she could consort with Mars. Despite its controversial origins, bouillabaisse is perfect served on a table between friends – just don’t forget the crusty bread for dipping.
INGREDIENTS: 2 tbs olive oil 1 onion, finely sliced 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, reserve fronds to serve 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced large pinch of saffron threads 200g tin whole tomatoes, crushed 1.25 litres fish stock (see below) 700g mixed seafood (such as cod, halibut, prawns, clams, mussels) sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.
METHOD: Heat the oil and saute the onion, fennel and garlic for 10 minutes until just brown. Add the saffron, tomatoes and stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer until the stock is reduced by half. Cut the fish into chunks and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shellfish and cook until the shells begin to open and the prawns are pink. Season and sprinkle with fennel fronds.
Makes about 1.25 litres
INGREDIENTS: 1kg fish bones and heads, from sole, halibut, etc 125ml dry white wine 1 large onion, chopped 1 fennel bulb, chopped 1 bay leaf 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley 3 sprigs thyme 1 tsp black peppercorns 1.5 litres water.
METHOD: Put the fish, wine, vegetables, herbs and pepper in a large stockpot and cover with the water. Simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes, skimming as necessary, then strain through a fine mesh sieve or muslin.
This is an edited extract from Soups by Anna Helm-Baxter, published by Hardie Grant Books. RRP $19.99 and available in stores nationally.