Bouillabaisse

Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Randy Mon

Few experiences are more magical than sitting seaside at twilight, sipping white wine and savoring the famous fish soup called bouillabaisse.

Yield: Serves 8 to 10
Recipe from Sunset

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Recipe Time

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Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 737
  • Calories from fat: 53%
  • Protein: 50g
  • Fat: 45g
  • Saturated fat: 7.1g
  • Carbohydrate: 34g
  • Fiber: 3.4g
  • Sodium: 1149mg
  • Cholesterol: 296mg

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, white parts only, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Platter of Marinated Fish
  • 3 large, ripe red tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 6 good-quality canned Roma tomatoes
  • 4 cups Fish Stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 pound spot prawns or other West Coast shrimp, heads and tails intact, live if possible
  • 3 cooked Alaskan snow crab legs, thawed if frozen and cut into 2-in. pieces; or 1/2 lb. cooked Dungeness crab, cracked
  • 1 pound California mussels
  • 1 pound California squid (calamari), tubes and tentacles separated, tubes cut into 1/2-in. rings
  • Rouille

Preparation

  1. 1. Heat oil in a large, wide pot over medium-high heat. Sauté leek and onion until translucent, 2 minutes. Add garlic, then fennel slices from under fish on platter. Sauté 2 minutes, then add tomatoes, stock, wine, bay leaf, thyme, pepper, and salt.
  2. 2. Remove fish from platter; set aside. Lift off fennel stalks and fronds and discard. Scrape marinade into broth. Bring to a boil, covered; then simmer, covered, until fennel slices are meltingly soft, 30 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 1 qt. water to a boil.
  3. 3. Bring broth to a rolling boil. Lay in the halibut and add enough boiling water to just cover fish. Cook until just opaque, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to a platter and cover.
  4. 4. Add thinner fish fillets and spot prawns and cook just until opaque, 2 minutes; transfer to platter as done. Add crab and mussels and cook just until mussels open, 5 minutes. Transfer both to platter. Add squid and cook just until opaque, about 1 minute; transfer to platter. Bathe platter with a ladle of broth. Remove bay leaf and thyme.
  5. 5. Ladle about 1 cup broth each into big soup bowls (keep broth hot for a second serving, covered). Bring bowls, platter, rouille, and toasts to the table. Put a little of each seafood in every bowl and top with a dollop of rouille. Serves 8 to 10.
  6. Make ahead: Add fish to remaining broth and keep, chilled, up to 5 days.
  7. Buying Guide
  8. When choosing your seafood, try to vary the textures and flavors. Some should be firm, others soft; some mild, others briny. Find them at a good seafood shop or your farmers' market.
  9. Alaskan snow crab legs: Very firm, lobsterlike texture; sweet and mild. Usually only available cooked.
  10. California mussels: Briny flavor; soft, melting texture with a bit of chew.
  11. California squid (calamari): Firm but tender; sweet yet meaty. It's neither fish nor shellfish, really, but it gives great texture and flavor to the soup.
  12. Dungeness crab: Flaky; sweet and moist.
  13. Pacific cod (true cod, gray cod): Delicate; mild flavor.
  14. Pacific halibut: Firm, with mild flavor.
  15. Petrale sole: Delicate texture; mild, sweet flavor.
  16. Rockfish (black bass, sea bass, black snapper): Medium-firm; clean sea flavor.
  17. Sablefish (black cod): Silky, medium-firm; rich, buttery flavor.
  18. Spiny lobsters: Succulent and firm. Can use, cooked, instead of crab. Available from fall to spring.
  19. Spot prawns: Incredibly sweet taste and tender-crisp; keep head and tail on for the most flavor. Can be hard to find.
  20. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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