The Dirty Stall


Posted on: August 31, 2010

Bouillabaisse is the classic Provençal fish soup that originated from Marseilles, the name coming from the combination of bouillon and abaissé, which means to boil and reduce.

The soup is usually cooked for 10+ people in Marseilles, so that they can add more fish which makes the bouillabaisse taste even better. Typically you’ll have a mix of firm and soft fleshed fish, with the traditional Mediterranean ones being rascasse (scorpionfish), grondin (sea robin) and congre (European conger). Other additions include mussels, crabs or even octopus.

Traditionally served together with the bouillabaisse are slices of grilled bread and rouille, which is a type of spicy mayonnaise.

Besides the selection of fishes, the other characteristic of bouillabaisse is the Provençal soup base. This is what you’ll need to start with:

1 cup sliced onions
3/4 cup sliced leeks
1/2 cup of olive oil
1 1/4 cup canned tomatoes
4 cloves of mashed garlic

Slowly sauté the onions and leeks on medium low heat for about 5 minutes, without browning them.

Then you add in the tomatoes and garlic, and cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Next we prepare the herbs and spices to be used in the soup:

6 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp fennel
2 big pinches of saffron
A 2-inch piece or 1/2 tsp dried orange peel
1/8 tsp pepper
1 tbsp sea salt

Load up the pot with about 1.5-2 kg of fish bones and the spice mix.

Now add about 4-5 cups of water and bring to the boil. Let it slowly boil for about 30 mins or so, skimming off the scum now and then. After that, strain it and correct for salt.

Now I have an assorted variety of fish to put in but of course since this is Singapore, I had to use the locally available fish found in the markets and hence it’s not a true bouillabaisse.

Can’t remember exactly what types of fish I used but I took photos of them so maybe you can identify them for me 😀

Bring the soup back with a rapid boil for about 20 minutes then add the crabs (or shellfish) and the firm-fleshed fish. Boil again rapidly for about 5 minutes.

Repeated the same rapid boiling for the soft-fleshed fish.

And finally dropped in the squid near the end.

Eventually you’ll get a rich and aromatic soup that’s ready for slurping!

Like I said at the start, this soup goes well with grilled bread. In this case my aunt made a large loaf of onion bread which we toasted and used to absorb the soup for eating.

And that’s my attempt to make bouillabaisse! This is definitely a meal for the whole family, and even your relatives can join in the fun as well!

And of course not forgetting Mr. Crab!


17 Responses to "Bouillabaisse"

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JW, Life of Lopsided 8. Life of Lopsided 8 said: The Dirty Stall – Bouillabaisse By @alkanphel […]

Hi! Came over from Catherine’s RT. OMG, that is some bouillabaisse! Amazing photography, fantastic cooking!!!

Thanks very much for the kind compliments!! 😀 The soup tasted wonderful! And I have added your blog to my blogroll. Love your cooking as well 🙂

You didn’t make any rouille for your awesome bouillabaisse!

Yeah I was thinking of doing it too but I got too lazy lol! Making the soup itself took up most of the time 😦

Mr. Crab is honestly a fantastic photograph and I’m entranced by it over here

Great bouillabaisse! I think you’ll be greatly interested in the upcoming October issue of appetite then.. This photo is about Chef Stephane’s bouillabaisse 😀

Thanks! I am definitely looking forward to that next issue then! I’m so jealous you got to cook with him haha!

been wanting to try this for a long time … i think i will try yr recipe for my first bouillabaisse

My recipe is based on Julia Child’s one. You’ll probably want to use lesser crabs and maybe throw in a few mussels or clams.

nice and noted.

wonderin if u added butter at the end to enhance the flavors and texture?

I haven’t really dabbled much into French cooking yet, I intend to once I feel that I’m finished with Italian cooking, so I’m not sure actually.

I thought normally the butter would be added at the start when sauteing the onions and other vegs if you want to enhance flavour. Perhaps you can mix in a roux near the end to get better texture and flavour.

Although I must say I haven’t really seen any bouillabaisse recipes that include butter in them.

I think you will do fine with french cooking, or any cooking 🙂

personally i dun really think it matters that much whether u use butter or oil in sautiing th eonions as for stews or broths, the amount of cooking liquid from the stock and the fish/ingredients will over power the taste or oil or butter .. but thats jus me ..

perhaps if u cook stew or this next time, i can suggest u add a knob of butter right before you serve and see how the flavors react .. i usually do this to my stews to give it an extra something .. 🙂

Hehe thanks! Well definitely putting in butter will increase the aromatic taste cos butter is so yummy, but it might overpower the taste of the fish soup for a bouillabaisse, especially one cooked using local fish and not the strongly flavoured Mediterranean fish meats. If I make this again, I might try a little butter and see how it adds to the taste 😀

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