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sauteeing French, Marseilles
Bouillabaisse Recipe-15730

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
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Steaming golden broth with flavor of the sea and the fragrance of saffron and garlic marks this Marseillaise classic brimming with fresh and shellfish, potatoes, leeks, and fennel. Crisp toasted croutons and the fiery garlic mayonnaise known as rouille garnish the dish.

Once you have prepared the broth and the rouille syrup, the rest of the cooking goes very quickly. I prefer to cook the fish, shellfish, and vegetables in separate pots of broth, so components can be done ahead and combined just before serving, simplifying this complex dish enormously! If you prefer the traditional method, you can bring to a boil a large pot of broth and add the shellfish and fish in order of thickness, cooking them all together.

Yield: Makes 6 servings


For the bouillabaisse broth:

  • 6 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 3¾ pounds fish bones, such as flounder, sole, or salmon, coarsely chopped and rinsed well
  • 3 lobster bodies or 2 cups shrimp shells
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, washed and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices
  • 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
  • 1 stalk fennel, cut into medium dice
  • 1 tablespoon saffron threads
  • ¾ cup pernod or Ricard
  • 2½ to 3 quarts Chicken Stock or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • ¼ jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the rouille:

  • 1½ bouillabaisse broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • ¼ jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 cloves Oven-Roasted Garlic
  • 1 cup pure olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dash of cayenne

For the vegetables:

  • Kosher salt
  • 6 small to medium potatoes (new, Yukon gold, or creamer), unpeeled
  • 2 bulbs fennel, cored and cut into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons bouillabaisse broth
  • ½ pint (about 12) red pear or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Freshly ground black pepper

For the croutons:

  • 18 slices French bread, ¼ inch thick
  • Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

For the fish and shellfish:

  • 6 fillets of bass, snapper, tilefish, or monkfish, 3 to 4 ounces each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cups bouillabaisse broth, or as needed
  • 12 to 18 medium to large shrimp, shelled
  • 12 to 18 scallops
  • 12 to 18 mussels, rinsed in cold running water and debearded
  • 18 to 24 clams, scrubbed and rinsed in cold running water


For the bouillabaisse broth:

In 2 large, shallow pans, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over high heat until smoking. Add the fish bones and lobster bodies or shrimp shells in a single layer and Sauté until light golden brown. It is important that they be spread in one layer; if they are packed too close together, they will steam, not brown. Add half the leeks, onion, fennel, and saffron to each pan and sauté until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add 6 tablespoons of Pernod to each pan, pouring it in carefully since it may ignite, and mix, scraping the bottom of the pans. Combine the mixture in a large stockpot. Add the chicken stock, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, and orange zest, lower the heat to medium, and simmer until reduced by one third, about 1¾ hours, stirring occasionally. Strain through a fine strainer, discarding the bones and vegetables, and season the broth with salt and pepper.

For the rouille:

Rouille should have a consistency similar to mayonnaise thin with a few drops of water or lemon juice, if needed.

In a medium saucepan, combine the broth, saffron, jalapeno, and raw garlic and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced to a syrup, 25 to 30 minutes, taking care that it does not burn. Strain through a fine strainer, pushing down on the solids, and cool to room temperature.

Place the yolks and roasted garlic in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until the mixture is pale yellow. Drizzle in ¼ cup of the olive oil. Begin adding 2 to 3 tablespoons of the syrup, 1 tablespoon at a time, alternately with the rest of the oil. The sauce should be thick and smooth. Check the seasonings and add the cayenne.

For the vegetables:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; boil the potatoes until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and halve or quarter, depending upon size.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the fennel until almost tender, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and sauce the leeks until almost tender. Add the fennel and a few tablespoons bouillabaisse broth. Add the heat and season with salt and pepper.

For the croutons:

Preheat a broiler and arrange the bread slices in 1 layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, if desired. Toast on both sides until golden brown.

Let the poached fish sit in its broth while you cook the shellfish, rather than risking breaking it by lifting it out. Instead, strain the cooked shellfish out of their broth and add them to the pot with the fish. Before serving, combine the broths you used to steam the fish and shellfish; they will be full of intense flavor.

For the fish and shellfish:

Season the fish with salt and pepper. In a large pot, cover the fish by seven eighths with cold broth and bring almost to a simmer over medium heat. Poach the fish until just opaque, 5 to 6 minutes. Set aside the fish and broth. Fill a medium pot or sauté pan halfway with broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add the shrimp and scallops and simmer just until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the leftover steaming liquid to the pot of broth and set the shrimp and scallops aside.

Place the mussels and clams in a shallow pan, cover with cold broth, and bring to a boil over high heat. Steam until the shellfish pop open, 6 to 8 minutes, and discard any that do not. Return the leftover steaming liquid to the pot of broth and add the shellfish to the shrimp.

To serve:

Bring the large pot of broth to a boil. Divide the vegetables among 6 shallow soup bowls. Use a slotted spoon to transfer a piece of fish to each bowl, and arrange some of the shellfish over the vegetables as well. Ladle the boiling broth over all, and garnish with croutons and rouille.


For chicken stock, substitute lobster stock, or half each chicken and lobster stocks.

For black pepper, substitute ½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes or 2 pinches of cayenne.


This recipe makes 12 cups of broth and you will need 6, or possibly a little more; if you refrigerate or freeze half, there will still half, there will still be more than enough broth to cook everything, even allowing for evaporation and absorption.

Order of preparation:

• Prepare the bouillabaisse broth.

• Prepare the rouille syrup and rouille.

• Prepare the vegetables.

• Make the croutons.

• Heat the broth and vegetables and cook the fish and shellfish.

Make-ahead notes:

• The bouillabaisse broth can be refrigerated up to 7 days; bring it to a boil every 2 days, to kill any bacteria that may form. It can be frozen.

• The rouille syrup can be refrigerated up to 10 days or frozen.

• The rouille can be refrigerated up to 10 days.

• The cooked vegetables can be refrigerated in the broth up to 3 days.

• The croutons can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for 1 day.

© 1996 Debra Ponzek and Joan Schwartz

Nutritional Information

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, using 18 oz of bass, 12 medium shrimp, 12 scallops, 12 mussels, and 18 clams, but does not include Chicken Stock, optional olive oi, or Oven-Roasted Garlic. For nutritional information on Chicken Stock or Oven-Roasted Garlic, please follow the links above.

978kcal (49%)
156mg (16%)
36mg (61%)
165mcg RAE (5%)
183mg (61%)
730mg (30%)
10g (48%)
58g (89%)
12mg (69%)

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