Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today is National Bouilabaisse Day!

Yet another fantastically important Food Day to celebrate: National Bouilabaisse Day!

(image from

Bouilabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. According to Wikipedia, Bouilabaisse is:

" a fish stock containing different kinds of cooked fish and shellfish and vegetables, flavored with a variety of herbs and spices such as garlic, orange peel, basil, bay leaf, fennel and saffron. There are at least three kinds of fish in a traditional bouillabaisse, typically scorpionfish (fr: rascasse); sea robin (fr: grondin); and European conger (fr: congre); and it can also include gilt-head bream (fr: dorade); turbot; monkfish (fr: lotte or baudroie); mullet; or silver hake (fr: merlan) It also usually includes shellfish and other seafood such as sea urchins (fr: oursins), mussels (fr: moules); small crabs (fr: etrilles); spider crab (fr: araignées de mer) or octopus. More expensive versions may add langoustine. Vegetables such as leeks, onions, tomatoes, celery and potatoes are boiled together with the broth and served with the fish. The broth is traditionally served with a rouille, a mayonnaise made of olive oil, garlic, saffron and cayenne pepper on grilled slices of bread. In Marseille, the broth is served first in a bowl containing the bread and rouille, with the seafood and vegetables served separately in another bowl or on a platter."

Sounds like a lot of work to me, yet utterly divine!

Here is a recipe for Bouilabaisse that I found on


Chef's Note: According to tradition, there should be at least five different kinds of fish in a proper bouillabaisse. In Marseille, considered the mecca of bouillabaisse, they use at least seven, not counting the shellfish. The fish should be extremely fresh - caught and cooked the same day. If you cannot get extremely fresh fish, then the next best alternative is quick frozen - fish frozen the same day it was caught. Use as many different types of fish as you can, such as fillets of flounder, haddock, cod, perch, white fish, whiting, porgies, bluefish, bass - almost any combination. Count on at least three kinds to serve six.


Stew ingredients:

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


1 Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a large (6-qt) saucepan. When it is hot, add onions and shallots (or leeks). Sauté for a minute, then add crushed garlic (more or less to taste), and sweet red pepper. Add tomato, celery, and fennel. Stir the vegetables into the oil with a wooden spoon until well coated. Then add another 1/4 cup of olive oil, thyme, bay leaf, cloves and the orange zest. Cook until the onion is soft and golden but not brown.

2 Cut fish fillets into 2-inch pieces. Add the pieces of fish and 2 cups of water to the vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Add oysters, clams or mussels (though these may be omitted if desired) and shrimp, crab meat or lobster tails, cut into pieces or left whole.

3 Add saffron, salt, pepper. Add clam juice, lemon juice, and white wine. Bring to a simmer again and cook about 5 minutes longer.

4 At serving time taste and correct the seasoning of the broth, adding a little more salt or pepper if need be, and maybe a touch of lemon juice. Into each soup bowl place a thick slice of crusty French bread, plain or slightly toasted. Spoon the bouillabaisse over the bread. If desired, serve with Sauce Rouille. Serves 6.

Directions for Sauce Rouille:

1 Tbsp hot fish stock or clam broth.
2 cloves peeled garlic
1 small red hot pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup soft white bread, pulled into bits
1/2 cup olive oil

Put hot fish stock or clam broth into the bottom of a blender. Add garlic and red hot pepper, salt and bread. Blend until very smooth. With the blender still running, add olive oil slowly and stop the blending as soon as the oil disappears.

At serving time pass Rouille in a little bowl along with the bouillabaisse. Each serving is about 1/2 a teaspoon that you stir into your soup. Use gingerly like Tabasco

Visit to find a caterer, personal chef or restaurant that features bouilabaisse for your special meal or occasion!

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