A golden broth under golden skies, made with fresh fish and the aromatic foods of farm and forest, the bouillabaisse is an enigma. This flexible feast is more than a mere broth. It is life in all its splendour in the cities, towns and villages of the Côte D’Azur. Whether it is the heat of the sun or the warmth of the soup, this wonderful broth has seduced cooks and chefs the world over with its charm. Sadly this is one dish that is very difficult to take home. The bouillabaisse is not easily replicated outside its homeland, not least because there are as many versions as there are rocks on the shore and cooks in the kitchen, and because the authentic version needs the garlic, onion and tomatoes of the farms, the herbs and saffron of the hills, and fresh fish from the sea. Nothing less will produce nothing more than a sad replication of this culinary masterpiece.
- 3.5 litres water
- 2 kg assortment of fish from bream, crab claws, eel, gurnard, John Dory, mackerel, monkfish tails, whiting
- 2 small lobsters, boiled, halved (optional)
- 250 g tomatoes, chopped
- 150 g onions, sliced
- 150 g leek, sliced
- 100 ml olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 10 g orange peel
- 5 g saffron, powdered
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig of dill
- 1 sprig of fennel
- 1 stalk of lovage or savory
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 4 thick slices of white country bread
Gut the fin fish, remove heads and trimmings to a large pot filled with three and a half litres of water. Make a fish stock, about 30 minutes.
Cut the firm fish into equal pieces, drench in oil with the saffron and seasonings.
If using crabs and lobsters add them to the fish stock with the bream, eel and gurnard, herbs and vegetables. Bring to a rolling boil, cook for seven minutes.
Add the fish coated in oil, bring back to the boil, cook for five minutes.
Strain the liquid into bowls containing a slice of bread, remove fish pieces from pot and arrange in the bowls with half a lobster for each diner.