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Lucienne's Bouillabaisse

Okay we are going to cheat just a little bit.  Pictures of Yolande's first Bouillabaisse (with shrimp and clams) but recipe is Lucienne's (with lobster tails) and quantities for 4.

Bouillabaisse at the tableIngredients:

2 TBSP olive oil

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

3 inches of one leek, green and white parts, chopped

3 inches of one celery rib, sliced

3 inches of fennel stalk and fronds, chopped

1 fat clove of garlic, minced

1 plum tomato, chopped

1 tsp Herbs de Provence

5 medium white potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 c. canned diced tomatoes

1.5 qts fish stock

2 pinches saffron threads

1/2 tsp fennel seeds, slightly pummelled

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp Harrissa

2 oz white wine

2 8 oz fillet of cod, cut in three

1 8 oz fillet of haddock, cut in three

2 lobster tails, split length wise, shell on

Lucienne's secret:  take your time.  Keep the stove on low.  Be patient. 

Into a large mouthed pot, add the oil.  Chop and add the onion, toss.  Chop and add the leeks, toss.  Chop and add the celery, toss.  Chop and add the fennel, toss.  Once onions and celery and the rest are translucent, chop and add the tomatoes, toss.  Mince and add the garlic then the Herbs de Provence, toss.  LOWEST setting of heat, remember. 

Bouillabaisse step onePeel and rinse and thinly slice the potatoes into the pot.  Toss to thoroughly coat the potatoes with the the flavors already in the pot.

Bouillabaisse step 2Cook for another 5 minutes.  Add fish stock, bring to a simmer, SLOWLY.  Add saffron, fennel seeds and taste for salt and pepper, adjust seasoning. 

Bouillabaisse step 3Add white wine.  Note:  you may substitute dry vermouth or pastis if you like.  I like pastis (Pernod, in my case).  If you like a little heat in your bouillabaisse, and Lucienne does, add the Harrissa now.  You can keep this going over very low heat now until your are ready for dinner.  In my case it sat for another hour, while I ran up showered, hair, make-up, ran down, poured a glass of wine and awaited my guests. 

Back to the cooking!  Slide your thickest cuts of fish (or whole fish if you are using) into the broth first.  then thinner cuts, finally shell fish.  You are poaching your fish and shellfish.  Once they are done (5 to 15 minutes depending on the fish you are using.  It is ready to serve. 

Bouillabaisse step 4To serve the Bouillabaisse Lucienne (and I) pull the fish back out and arrange on a tray.  The broth and potatoes get kept in a soup kettle.  You need to make a Rouille (very garlicy mayonnaise made with olive oil), recipe below and have some thinly toasted baguette slices that have been rubbed with a garlic clove.  You will need a plate for the fish, a bowl for the soup and potatoes.  Once on your plate it should look something like this:  Oh!  and don't forget the glass of Rose!

Bouillabaisse, soup, fish, crouton, and a dollop of rouilled right in the soup!



Fish Stock Recipe

This batch had the heads, spines and tails of three very large fish.  The quantities were, I will admit, a bit absurd.  So I am only going to tell you about what I put into the small (8 qt) pot.  This netted about 4.5 qts, and almost manageable quantity. 


1 fish head,spine, tail (about 2 lbs)

2 medium yellow onions, rough chopped, skins on

2 carrots, scrubbed and cut into 3 pieces each

4 celery ribs, washed, leaves left on

1/2 bulb of fennel (optional)

1 bunch of parsley (I actually only use the stems in the stock)

3 TBSP of salt, coarse

1 TBSP whole pepper corns

2 TBSP Herbs de Provence


Put all ingredients in a heavy bottomed pot and simmer for 2 hours.  Do NOT boil.  Do NOT bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Put it on a low heat from the beginning.  It will take the first hour to get to a simmer, then let it do its thing, gently, for the second hours. 

Every 15 to 20 minutes skim the top and keep foam free.  As the pot gets hot, press down on the bones to break them down and release all that goodness locked inside.  

I personally like a lighter stock.  So at this point I strain through a fine meshed sieve, into old quart yogurt containers, label and freeze.  You could, "can" at this point if you wished. 

Some recipes will tell you to squeeze everything out of the bones when you strain, and you can.  It will make for a stock with more body.  You can cook a little longer to achieve the same thing. 

Personally, when I am ready to use the stock in something I make sure I have time to let the stock reduce by another 25% before the final recipe is ready (or I add any fish for final cooking).