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I've been craving bouillabaisse served with crispy, golden olive oil-doused croutons and rouille (think kicked-up roasted pepper aioli). You can’t really make an authentic bouillabaisse in the US because you need the little fish that they use along the Cote d’Azur, nor the variety of fish they add but I just cheat a little and call it an American-style Bouillabaisse.
I love this dish, and while it may sound fancy, it has very humble beginnings. Legend has it that bouillabaisse was created by the fishermen of Marseille who wanted to make a meal when they returned to port. They threw all the small bony fish that they couldn't sell into a big soup pot with water to make a flavorful broth over a wood fire. Then they took what was left over, such as shellfish and a variety of fish and made a spicy stew of it.
1 Recipe Bouillabaisse Broth
1 1/4 pounds white fish, like cod or halibut2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 cloves garlic, mincedSeveral threads saffron2 baguettes, cut into large, thin slices on the diagonalExtra virgin olive oil for brushing1 large clove garlic, peeled and left whole2 pounds super fresh clams, washed 2 pounds super fresh mussels1 pound fresh sea scallops, not frozen 1 pound medium prawns¼ cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc2 teaspoon Pernod (optional) 1 recipe Rouille
One hour before serving, cut the fish into one-inch pieces. Marinate with olive oil, minced garlic and a few threads of saffron. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush the baguette slices with olive oil and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast the baguette slices in the middle of the oven in the oven until lightly golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the oven the rub on one side of the toast with the whole cloves of garlic.
Bring the Bouillabaisse Broth to a boil and add the clams and simmer until you see the first ones just beginning to open, about 2 minutes. Add the mussels and cook until they begin to open. Add the fish, scallops, prawns, 1/4 cup additional wine and cook at a slow rolling boil, until the prawns are pink and curled, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining saffron threads and continue to simmer slowly for 1 minute. Season with optional Pernod, salt and pepper.
To serve the bouillabaisse, ladle the broth, fish and shellfish into bowls. Top the toasted bread slices and Rouille. Serve immediately. Serves 6
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