This post is my submission to September’s “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!” event, hosted this month by Gluten Free Gidget. The theme this month was Disney. The first thing that came to mind was one of my favorite movies as a little kid, “The Little Mermaid”. I immediately thought of the scene where Sebastian the crab is trying to escape the palace chef, and the chef is singing “Les poissons, les poissons, how I love les poissons, love to chop and to serve little fish….” And so in honor of that song, I bring to you one of my favorite French seafood dishes, bouillabaisse!
Bouillabaisse (pronounced “BOO-ya-base”) is a French fish stew from the area of Provence, and highlights bright bold flavors along with fresh seafood. I want to try my hand at making more Provençal style recipes, mainly because I love the region and the food so much. I have not really made very many traditional French recipes on this blog yet, but I hope to bring more to you, my lovely readers, in the future!
This dish is pretty free form, and there is a lot of room for creative license. There are a couple of key features – one, you should use at least three different types of fish. I recommend mild white fish that do not impart a very “fishy” taste, along with at least one shellfish. Two, the dish involves a flavorful broth with lots of saffron and aromatic vegetables – by aromatic I mean like shallots or onion, garlic, fennel, etc. The dish is traditionally served with by dishing up the seafood you want, then adding in strained broth and topping the soup with croutons and rouille (pronounced “roo-EE”), a spicy garlic sauce. I did take a few liberties there in order to keep this gluten free and diabetic friendly (like no croutons, no potatoes).
For the Rouille:
2 slices bread (gluten free), crumbled
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, ground
1 cup seafood broth
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Soup:
extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 bulb fennel (anise), chopped)
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 tsp. saffron
1 tomato, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
salt/pepper as needed
2 cups dry white wine
8 cups seafood broth
1 lb. white fish (cod, sole, etc.), cut into bite size pieces
1/2 lb. lobster or crab meat, cooked and cut into bite size pieces
other seafood/shellfish if desired (mussels)
1. Start on the rouille first. Combine bread crumbs, garlic, and cayenne in a food processor. Then whisk in broth, and gradually stir in olive oil to create an emulsion. Set aside.
2. Heat up a large pot and add in olive oil. Add in garlic, onion, fennel, celery, and saffron. Let the veggies soften, and then add in tomato, bell pepper, fennel sprigs, and bay leaf, and deglaze a bit with white wine.
3. Add in the seafood broth, and bring to a simmer, and cover. Let simmer for at least 30 min.
4. Add in fish, and let simmer a few minutes until the fish is cooked. It will be flaky and tender. At this point, add in the lobster/crab meat. Let cook another 5 min.
5. Right before serving, add in mussels so that they can steam. Strain broth and reserve.
6. To serve, dish up fish/veggies that each person wants to eat, and add in strained broth. Top with rouille (use sparingly, it’s mighty hot!)