aka Fish Stew!
A holiday in the South of France may not be on the cards for a while, but you can still serve up a traditional French fish stew called Bouillabaisse - and pretend you are in a little café overlooking a Mediterranean harbour with a glass or two of dry white!
In a large lidded pan sauté until soft, a large chopped onion or leek, a sliced pepper, 2 chopped celery sticks, 5 new potatoes cut into 1cm cubes, plus a little chopped fennel to be rather traditional – but it is optional as not to everyone’s taste.
Now add 2 tins of good quality chopped tomatoes. And a pint of quality fish stock. (I cheat with this ingredient and use 2 or 3 fish stock cubes dissolved in boiling water as I would never have enough fish bones to make my own stock)!
Season with freshly ground pepper. It should not need salt as the stock cubes are pretty salty, but maybe a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Add a small handful of torn fresh basil or shredded thyme leaves – or a good teaspoon or two of the dried versions would do. And if you like a little kick to your stew - add a good pinch of smoked paprika or a chopped red chilli – all to your own taste!
Then a really good splash of dry white wine. Traditionally it would have been Pernod which would complement the fennel, if used – but I can’t say Pernod is something always in my cupboard! So white wine it is. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or so.
Now for the fish – basically you need about 350g of fish for this amount of sauce. You could buy a pack of ‘ready prepared fish pie mix’ from the supermarket or fishmongers. Or better still make it up yourself with your favourite fish – perhaps with a starter base of fresh flaked salmon, or a white fish such as cod or even smoked yellow haddock is good. Add this ‘basis’ of your fish choice to the simmering tomatoey yummy sauce and cook for about 15 minutes.
- This is where you can get creative and add some luxury to your meal - - For the last few minutes add some fresh prawns, mussels, squid or smoked mackerel -
In all adding up to about the 350g. Or add as much or as little fish as you like. Just make sure thereare no bones. You could even add a good handful of spinach leaves to wilt, right at the end of cooking.
That is about it! A wonderful hearty and incredibly tasty – fish stew!!! Or call it Bouillabaisse if you are going to add langoustines and lobster and charge 75 Euros per scant portion in a famous South of France restaurant!!!
I serve in large bowls with lots of chopped fresh coriander and parsley piled on top and with thick chunks of buttered artisan bread to - as my little grand daughter would say to "dip dip".
I have also served with croutons for a slightly lighter meal.
If you have any left over ‘stew’, sorry, bouillabaisse – cool it down in the fridge immediately. Reheat until piping hot the next day and blitz with a hand blender – for a sublime fish soup.