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Bouillabaisse (Seafood Stew) Recipe

Le vrai bouillabaisse

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, 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:

fish for bouillabaisse, le miramar France

By French law, true Bouillabaisse must contain at least three types of fish. At Le Miramar, it contains six.

(serves 4-6)

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

Pinch saffron

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


Marilyn McFarlane, photo by Jan Jackson.


Read more about Marilyn’s exploration of this classic French dish in “Marseille’s True Bouillabaisse.”

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Bobbie Hasselbring

RFT founder and the website's former editor-in-chief, Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. She's been an award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook.