Gourmet, July 2002
A 1980 charter signed by 11 restaurants (7 in Marseilles) dictates what kinds of fish form the basis of an authentic local bouillabaisse. These are generally unavailable here, so we suggest using the freshest non-oily fish you can get, preferably three to five different kinds. As long as we were taking liberties, we also added lobster and used fennel fronds in place of pastis. And though the broth and croutons are usually served separately from the fish itself in Marseilles, we enjoyed everything together.Active time: 1 1/4 hr Start to finish: 1 1/2 hr
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings
- 12 to 16 (1/2-inch-thick) baguette slices
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 1 (1- to 1 1/4-lb) live lobster
- 2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 lb boiling potatoes
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fennel fronds (sometimes called anise)
- 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 9 cups white fish stock
- 3 lb mixed skinned white fish fillets (such as monkfish, turbot, red snapper, striped bass, porgy, grouper, and/or cod), cut into 2-inch pieces
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Arrange bread slices in 1 layer in a shallow baking pan and brush both sides with oil. Bake in middle of oven until crisp, about 30 minutes. Rub 1 side of each toast with a cut side of garlic.
Plunge lobster headfirst into a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling water, then cook, covered, 2 minutes from time lobster enters water. Transfer lobster with tongs to a colander and let stand until cool enough to handle. Discard hot water in pot. Put lobster in a shallow baking pan. Twist off claws with knuckles from body, then crack claws with a mallet or rolling pin and separate claws from knuckles. Halve body and tail lengthwise through shell with kitchen shears, then cut crosswise through shell into 2-inch pieces. Reserve lobster juices that accumulate in baking pan.
Cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic in oil in cleaned 6- to 8-quart pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Stir potatoes into tomatoes with fennel fronds, bay leaf, saffron, sea salt, and pepper. Add stock and bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, until potatoes are almost tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add thicker pieces of fish to soup and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes. Stir in remaining fish and lobster, including juices, and simmer, uncovered, until they are just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir 3 tablespoons broth from soup into rouille until blended. Arrange 2 croutons in each of 6 to 8 deep soup bowls. Carefully transfer fish and lobster from soup to croutons with a slotted spoon, then ladle some broth with vegetables over seafood.
Top each serving with 1 teaspoon rouille and serve remainder on the side.