Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bouillabaisse Créole Royale

Image of the produce for the soupDear Gentle Reader,

There are better reasons to visit markets than just sniffing the texture-heavy air or listening to the babble of feverish buying and selling.

You go to the market to buy ingredients, to make food.

So, today I will share with you a lovely soup that I made the other night.

I call it Bouillabaisse Créole Royale. 

(Your Heroine asked why it was royal... because it has salmon in it. Anyone from British Columbia knows that salmon is the king of fish...)

It is easy and quick to make, which is abnormal for most of the multi-hour/day recipes that your scribe likes to invent, follow (not likely), or extensively modify. 

(Your humble scribe knows his writing needs much more work. His cooking, like his legal argumentation, has passed the 10,000 hours of apprenticeship mark soon to be made popular by Malcolm Gladwell).

Image of a plate of fish for the meal
Ingredients for Bouillabaisse Créole Royale (for the chef and three guests) in 45 minutes:
(Broken down into 5 stages of cooking, but prepare it all first...)

Ingredients for Stage 1

olive oil (couple of big spoons)
2 red onions (minced)
2 large cloves of garlic (minced)
(Hint with the garlic. Always cut garlic in half and if a "seedling" is growing, remove it. The hormones that instigate growth lead to indigestion...)

Ingredients for stage 2

4 hand-sized tomatoes (quartered)
3 or 4 chilli peppers (cut small then pounded or crushed in a mortar and pestle with the seeds)

Ingredients for stage 3

some fresh thyme
freshly ground nutmeg
salt (1 spoon)
green pepper (freshly ground)

Ingredients for stage 4

salmon (100 g) cut large
mackeral (200 g) cut large
red snapper (200 g) cut large
sole (100 g) cut large
scallops (2 large ones) cut in half (against the grain)
crab (3 large legs) cut in half
crayfish (4) whole
prawns (4) whole
Boiling water (enough to cover the fish once it is added)

Ingredients for stage 5

two good finger pinches of fresh saffron
some curry mix 
(I used a Madras (OK, Chennai now) style curry powder I made up, you can use your own. I used a Madras style Garam Masala (two small spoons) to which I added some turmeric (two and a half small spoons) some cayenne pepper (3/4 of a small spoon) some amchur powder (dried bitter pomengranate) (1/2 small spoon) and 1 1/2 small spoons of  ground coriander)

Method of Preparation (Broken down into the 5 stages)
for Bouillabaisse Créole Royale

Stage 1
Put olive oil into a thick-bottomed pan, warm slowly.
Add onions and garlic, cook gently, say 3 minutes at a medium/low heat.

Stage 2
Add ingredients to pot.
Cook over a medium heat for 7-9 minutes. Skin on tomatoes should have broken and tomatoes should be soft but not fully cooked.

Stage 3
Add ingredients to pot.
Sautee for 2 minutes, stirring (if thyme cooks too long it becomes bitter...)

Stage 4
Add all ingredients, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes

Stage 5
Add all ingredients, simmer for 5 minutes.

Check salt, adjust if neccesary, and serve.

Bouillabaisse Créole Royale is also nice for the next two days. Please do not warm it up in the microwave, unless you like rubbery fish...

Rye bread is nice with this. Beer is good, so is a fruity, crisp white wine like a drier Gewurtztraminer. Enjoy!

Image of the completed soup

Chris, Regina, and Pommes with a spoon


Lorie said...

That sounds lovely! Do you remove the tomato skins? I've never tried making a bouillabaisse, although I used to make a nice oyster stew (delicate, with cream). I think I'll do that again next summer on the cape with fresh Wellfleet oysters. Jody Adams at Rialto in the Charles Hotel in Harvard Square used to make a spectacular bouillabaisse, but I don't think it's on her menu anymore.

It's getting cold in New England, so tonight was a roasted butternut squash soup with onion, shallots, garlic, fresh parsley and tarragon, all in a chicken broth base. I roasted the squash yesterday (at the same time as the baked potatoes we had with a truly perfect filet mignon from our local butcher) so soup tonight was quick and easy.

Junosmom said...

I am not very adventurous when it comes to fish. I suppose that I should stay here, firmly in the Midwest in the States then, shouldn't I?

Cloudia said...

Voila! Scribe, you are a plaesure. Hmmmm, love da smell too!
Stay healthy, my friends. aloha-

Sepiru Chris said...

Hi Lorie,

Traditional Bouillabaisse Recipes

For the recipe I invented for this (prior) post, I didn't remove the tomato skins.

Normally I would blanch the tomatoes and peel them prior to quartering them.

Here I find that the texture of the rolled skins is quite acceptable, and it keeps the tomatoes together longer, which lets their centres take longer to cook.

But, you ask about traditional Bouillabaisses...

Bouillabaisse comes from the two verbs bouillir (to boil) and abaisser (to reduce).

[Although I have been known to try to pretend that it comes from bouiller (to boil) and baiser (to kiss) and that it refers to a hot, spicy kiss, but that works much better verbally than written.]

Classical (French) bouillabaisse varies by the region, but almost always include rockfish and a whole mess of other fishes and shellfishes.

When I have cooked various regional styles I have generally used over 3 kg (almost 7 pounds) of fish and shellfish for each 8 people whom I am cooking for.

That 3 kg is usually comprised of at least 8 different types of fish.

Always include a number of tomatoes (skinned and finely chopped for French styles...)

The spicing is usually based on bay leaves (laurel), garlic, parsley, thyme, fennel, pepper, and dried orange peel (big chunks! Well dried!) and a good bit of saffron.

The big difference between most French bouillabaisses and the one I made here is preparation time and the amount of oil. And the layering of the fish...

For traditional bouillabaisses...

Combine all the ingredients, layering the fish and shellfish so that in a rapid boil and reduction (7 minutes boil, equal time to reduce) the heat transfer will cook the various types of fish and shellfish on various levels appropriately.

With that caveat on fish layering aside, first, add the spices, tomatoes, and then layer all the fish. Add close to a cup of olive oil for each 8 people. Season again.

Let this sit in a cool place for a few hours to marinate. 6 hours is nice, I prefer 8 and this is one reason why this takes a while to make. Note that the creole one I made in the posting is much faster because there is no marinating time.

18 minutes before you are going to serve, add sufficient fish stock to cover the fish. Bring to a covered boil and boil for 7 minutes. Remove lid and reduce for another 7 minutes.

Pour over sun-dried bread (the good men and women of Marseilles make Marette solely for this purpose) in the bowls and serve.

Hope that helps.

And Lorie, your roasted butternut squash soup sounds fantastic.

Would you believe that I watched Repo Man, trying to stay awake until sunrise (I failed) dubbed into Khmer on December 9th...

I think my consciousness floated away with the car because I did not remain awake to get the sunrise pictures I wanted.

I wanted to capture the cyclo men of Phnom Penh waking up, from their cyclos (bicycle carts used to carry people and goods around the city), to start the day...

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about regarding the Repo men, enjoy a plate of shrimp and some neat photography over at Lorie's site...


Sepiru Chris said...

Junosmom, I spent time in Chicago years ago... the fish was not necessarily the best. Come to Hong Kong and I will show your tastebuds the difference freshness makes to fish.

Cloudia, I am guessing that your East Coast food sensibilities combined with an openness to your island home have brought together some pretty good meals...


Sepiru Chris said...

Ooh, last note, Lorie.

American chowder is based on Chaudrée from Charentes.

The fish are cooked in Muscadet, butter, thyme, bay leaves, and garlic and then poured over the cooked potatoes in a bowl...

Hmmm. I think I know what I am making for dinner tonight.


Barbara Martin said...

Aren't you full of surprises. First, Saskatoon, and now a chef.

Recipe sounds divine. I'm going to try it.

Elizabeth said...

Chef ... I found an actual okra omelette in the "white trash cookbook" recently scored at the god loves you store in Salmon Arm. Aka the chewy store.

Recipe will be sent via snail mail for your perusal and use if desired.


Sepiru Chris said...

Cheers Barbara,

Let me know how it turns out for you.


Long time no hear!

Goodness gracious me, of course I want to receive that by snail mail, although I would prefer personal delivery more...

I ought to write a post on that breakfast...

With love from abroad,
Chris, Pommes and Regina