Recipe: Bouillabaisse, a French classic

14th March, 2016
The signature dish of Marseille, bouillabaisse is a classic French seafood stew enjoyed not only at our Cote d’Azur villas but all over France. Full of delicious fresh fish and seafood, this stew gets its wonderful colour from tomatoes and saffron, though is bursting with the hints of flavour added by the variety of herbs. If you’re craving a taste of France, have a go at this recipe, and you’ll be reminded of meals overlooking the Mediterranean in no time.

Ingredients (makes 12 portions)

  • 2kg (5lb) mullet or seabass
  • 350g (12oz) cleaned and debearded mussels
  • 350g fresh peeled prawns
  • 3 peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
  • 2 sliced leeks
  • 2 thinly sliced onions 
  • 4 minced cloves of garlic
  • 175ml (6fl oz) olive oil
  • 1 sprig fresh fennel
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Get a large saucepan warm over the hob, before heating the olive oil and adding the tomatoes, leeks, onions and garlic. Cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until the vegetables go soft. Stir in the fennel, thyme, bay leaf and grated orange zest for a new burst of flavour and aroma.

Create the sauce by adding two litres (3˝ pints) of boiling water, as well as the mussels. Season the mixture to taste with as much salt and pepper as you wish, before turning the heat up to high. Let the soup boil for around three minutes, allowing the olive oil and the water to combine.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the fish and prawns. Allow the stew to keep bubbling away until the fish is cooked – this should take 12-15 minutes. At this point, the fish should be tender, but not falling apart.

Finally, add some more salt and pepper to taste, before stirring in the saffron to give the stew its trademark colour. Serve immediately in warm bowls with some freshly baked bread.

Image: TummyRumble, available under Creative Commons