Editor’s Note: Recently, veteran traveler writer Marilyn McFarlane traveled to Marseille, France, to sample true bouillabaisse, the rich, spicy seafood soup or stew that originated in the area. She enjoyed the bouillabaisse at Le Miramar where Chef Buffa claims his is the only true, authentic version of this classic French seafood dish.
Chef Buffa’s recipe appears on Le Miramar’s website, www.bouillabaisse.com. It calls for weevers, dories, gurnards, anglerfish, capons, eel, and rockfish soup. Also onions, garlic, saffron, olive oil, fennel, parsley, potatoes, tomatoes, and two glasses of Pastis. Plus an egg yolk rouille (breadcrumb/garlic sauce).
If his recipe seems too daunting to try at home (or the ingredients are unavailable), here’s a simpler one. It may not be la vrai bouillabaisse, but it’s delicious:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 sliced onion
1 sliced fennel bulb
1 14-ounce can tomatoes and juice
1 pinch saffron
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon orange zest
Salt and pepper – ¼ teaspoon each or to taste
6 cups hearty fish stock (make your own by simmering fish heads and tails in water)
At least 3 kinds of fresh fish, enough for 4-6 people, cut into chunks (firm-fleshed fish such as halibut, cod, monkfish, talapia, snapper, rockfish, shrimp, crab, striped bass)
Shellfish such as clams and mussels, in shells and scrubbed
Heat oil in a kettle and sauté onion, garlic, and fennel until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, juice, herbs, orange zest and seafood stock, bring to a boil, then simmer 20 minutes. Add fish chunks and simmer 5 minutes. Add shellfish and simmer until shells open, about 5 minutes. Discard those with unopened shells.
Serve in soup bowls with rouille ( breadcrumb/garlic sauce) and garlic-rubbed croutons on the side.
1 red bell pepper, roasted
2 cloves garlic
1 chile pepper, seeded
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
Peel red bell pepper. Discard skins and seeds. Mix ingredients in blender or food processor until pureed. – Marilyn McFarlane, RFT Contributor
Read more about Marilyn’s exploration of this classic French dish in “Marseille’s True Bouillabaisse.”