Bouillabaisse, a Mediterranean Fish Stew

A delicate and unmistakable aroma

Arguably the most famous fish stew of the Mediterranean, bouillabaisse is thought to have originated in Marseilles but can be found all along the coast of Provence. The mythical genesis of bouillabaisse, as recounted by the Marseillais, is that Venus created it to serve to her husband, Vulcan, in order to lull him into a complacent sleep while she had an affair with Mars.

It is thought that the precursor to the Provencal bouillabaisse is an Italian fish stew called brodetto that even today is its closest cousin.

Bouillabaisse’s distinguishing mark comes not from the fish, which all fish-stews have, but from the particular flavor given it by the inclusion of saffron, fennel seeds and orange zest.

Ingredients for three

2 pound fish depending upon what is available at the fish market, your vendor may be able to help with the selection; ex. sole, mullet, monk fish, dogfish, goby, baby squid, baby octopus, cuttlefish, mussels, scampi and off course shrimp.

2 shallots minced

extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 tomato peeled and seeded

parsley minced

thyme

dry orange rinds (from a half orange)

one bag saffron

salt

pepper

two slices of good bread

Preparation

Gut and clean the fish, then cut it into regular proportions. Put the following ingredients into a large, earthenware casserole dish; green onion, garlic, tomato, minced parsley and orange rinds. Then fix first the crustaceans, then the fish and chunks: sole, mullet, monkfish, dogfish, goby, baby squid, baby octopus, cuttlefish, and mussels. Drizzle a good amount of oil on everything, add salt and pepper and add cold water so that the fish are submerged. Cook on a high flame and as soon as it starts to boil again add the saffron. Cook the fish stew for 15 minutes then turn off the flame. Add salt, pepper and saffron to taste. Arrange the fish in a large, warm plate Strain the broth into a soup tureen into which you have arranged slices of first choice quality bread (casareccio as an example) bread. Sprinkle the parsley on both the broth and the fish and serve.

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