Use at least 4 types of fish for the best flavor and texture.
1 fennel bulb with stalks and fronds
1 pound Pacific halibut fillets, cut into 1-in. chunks
1/2 pound each of 4 Pacific fish fillets* such as petrale sole, Pacific cod, sablefish, and rockfish, in whole pieces
1/4 teaspoon saffron (threads or powder)
2 tablespoons pastis or Pernod
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
How to Make It
Slice fennel bulb thinly and lay on a platter along with its stalks and fronds. Lay fish on top in a single layer and sprinkle with remaining ingredients. Turn several times to coat. Let stand at room temperature, lightly covered, 2 hours (chill if longer than 2 hours, and use within 4 hours).
Make fish stock, rouille, and toasts while fish marinates.
*For more on these fish, including their other names, see "Buying Guide" (below).
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.
Alaskan snow crab legs: Very firm, lobsterlike texture; sweet and mild. Usually only available cooked.
California mussels: Briny flavor; soft, melting texture with a bit of chew.
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.