Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Break: Bouillabaisse

My Spring Break has officially begun! At some point next week, I am driving south to visit my friend JB in Florida. The one thing I’ve told her I’d like to do is make Bouillabaisse. Two years ago when I went down to visit, we spent a couple of days on Anna Maria Island. I had done some research on area restaurants on Chowhound, and read some good reviews of The Beach Bistro on Holmes Beach. The reviews did not do it justice -- our meal there was one of the best meals I have ever had. The highlight was the Bouillabaisse. I’ve wanted to try making it ever since. Given that there is not much fresh seafood here in the mountains, I’ve been waiting for a good opportunity and this trip to the coast is it.

Tonight I started doing a little research for a recipe. I snagged this picture of their Bouillabaisse from the Beach Bistro’s Facebook page:

Does that look fabulous or what?

Then, because I am the Queen of Google, I googled “Beach Bistro Anna Maria Island Bouillabaisse recipe.” And ironically, since it is my go-to site for recipes, I found this on the Cooking Light site:

Bistro Bouillabaisse
Featuring a tempting variety of seafood, this is the signature dish at Sean Murphy's Beach Bistro. The recipe can easily be doubled to serve four.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
1/4 cup julienne-cut leek
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup diced plum tomato
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried tarragon
Dash of crushed saffron threads
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon Pernod or sambuca (licorice-flavored liqueur)
1 cup bottled clam juice
1/2 cup tomato juice
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 littleneck clams
4 ounces grouper or other firm white fish fillet, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 medium mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 (5-ounce) lobster tail, split in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through garlic); cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato, fennel seeds, thyme, tarragon, and saffron; cook 1 minute. Stir in wine and liqueur; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Add juices and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes. Add clams and grouper; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until clams begin to open. Add mussels, shrimp, and lobster; cook 4 minutes or until mussels open. Discard any unopened clams or mussels. Garnish with parsley.

If you are thinking that was way too easy, you’re right. There is no way that that soup base was made with bottled clam juice. And I remember the soup being garnished with something other than parsley.

On to Julia… Mastering the Art of French Cooking includes a recipe for Soupe de Poisson that she uses as her base for Bouillabaisse. Although, she does concede that if you don’t have enough fish bones and heads, you can strengthen the base with bottled clam juice. She also includes a recipe for Rouille as an optional garnish. The Rouille is made with red bell pepper, potato, garlic, chili and herbs. That doesn’t sound like the right garnish either. Still, I think I am off to a pretty good start.

UPDATE: See my post about our fabulous finished product at:


Sharon said...

There are some in New Orleans who think the correct way to make fish stock is with shrimp remains only to avoid an overly fishy taste. I've never been a big fan of bouillabaisse although Adam likes it, but I have two containers of shrimp stock in the freezer and I need to do something with them.

Lynn said...

I was thinking about using shrimp shells -- just because I know I can easily acquire them.

I was never a big Bouillabaisse fan until I ate it at the Beach Bistro.

Do you have any ideas about what the garnish might have been?