Anna, of SIREN SongSA wrote,
“WE HAVE ALBACORE and I am more popular than ever. I have been asking my fish plant and fishermen buddies what they like to do with crazy fresh albacore when they can get their hands on it. Nearly every person who answered started out with, “You cube it up, wrap it in bacon, then soak it in…” The … is the variable here. Wrap it in bacon is the rule. Duh.
We wrapped it, soaked it and grilled it and it was good. It would have been excellent, had I not overcooked it. On the next albacore, I’ll do it up proud and write about it, but the point of this story is about what I did with the wonderful fresh albacore that I didn’t wrap, soak and grill. That brings us to bouillabaisse.
Thanks to Brian and his Reno wedding, I have an easy and tasty go-to fish soup recipe.
Back in May 2010, Amanda Hesser wrote in the NYT Magazine about bouillabaisse. It was one of her “Recipe Redux” columns where she unearths an old recipe and asks a chef to suggest an updated version. When I got that issue, I couldn’t wait to try the updated 2010: Olive-Oil-Poached Cod With Saffron-Blood-Orange Nage, the “new fangled” version of the lead 1904 Bouillabaisse, and I did cook that.
I might never have gotten around to the 1904 version but when we were at Brian’s for the Saturday wedding in Reno:
“The limo was to pick us up at three o’clock at the Vista Restaurant, a five minute drive away – Limos are not allowed to pick up at private residences – the morning was open for hair, nails, pick-up-the-cake and Brian’s list of errands.
Brian planned bouillabaisse for lunch Saturday. He said its so easy, he has it often. As it turned out, it was a “Recipe Redux” Amanda Hesser does in the New York Times Magazine from time to time. I had made the 2010 version: Olive Oil Poached Cod with Saffron Blood Orange Nage. Brian can’t do citrus, so his go-to is the 1904 Bouillabaisse. He pulled out the tattered, stained Magazine page and handed it to me. We went and got some fish for it and I walked back from Scolari’s Supermarket — It is possible to walk in Sparks — while Brian went off on his errands. I started prepping… time passed and nobody came back from their stuff. Little did I know I’d be cooking lunch alone in a strange kitchen with a deadline. Soup was great!”
What else would come to mind when I had lovely chunks of fish to use?
In addition to the fish chunks, it takes scallops and shrimp — but only a few of each. Lucky for me, I can go to Whole Food and get six shrimp and four scallops, and I did.
The first order of business is to make the broth. That’s a matter of assembling and cooking olive oil, tomatoes, thinly sliced onion, thinly sliced carrot, saffron, a bay leaf, sprigs of parsley and cloves of garlic.
Once that’s all cooked until everything melts into goodness, add fish broth and wine and bring to a boil.
Now, you can add the fish or turn it off and wait for dinnertime.
When you come back to your broth, reheat, add the fish and cook for about 5 minutes until its done.
This is not such a far cry from the Bouillabaisse Mark Bittman expounded upon in his NY Times blog in 2009, adapting Julia Child’s Bouillabaisse to his Long Island sensibilities. That one I did make and write about.
So I guess — after all that — my point is: If you’ve got a great piece of fish, make a bouillabaisse; it’s not hard, and you’ll thank me for reminding you.
March 14, 2010
Recipe Redux: Bouillabaisse, 1904
By AMANDA HESSER
In 1988, The New York Times ran the Le Bernardin chef Gilbert Le Coze’s famed recipe for bouillabaisse, with its 13 steps and 25 ingredients. And that was pretty much the symbolic end for the Marseillaise fish stew: over the years, chefs made it so complicated that no one actually wanted to eat it, let alone source all the fish and cook it.
Bouillabaisse has long had a reputation for being difficult and confusing. Whatever you want to call it — broth lowered or fish boil, soup or stew — bouillabaisse is meant to contain a bunch of fish, olive oil and water, and is not supposed to take three days to make. A century ago, it was much simpler. It was an ideal dish for home cooks: there was no doting over perfect slices of fish, no high-octane fish stock and no mention of garlicky rouille. It began with water, olive oil and sometimes wine, an onion or two, tomatoes, saffron, some herbs and fish. Then you gave the mix a blast of heat so the oil and broth would come to an excited boil and engulf the aromatics.
The 1904 recipe I settled on contained equal parts water and oil and half the amount of white wine. The saffron- and herb-scented oil insulates the fish and dresses it as the fish breaks down, making for a rich and rustic oily broth. It completely changed my sense of what bouillabaisse could be.
1904: Bouillabaisse?This appeared in a Times article called “Bouillabaisse and Chowders: An Eel-Soup Digression — Who Now Get the Best Vegetables and Fruits — A Dear Fish Market.” The author is unknown.
1904: Bouillabaisse for two
After a few cookings, I modified the recipe to easily be used for two. The original recipe is in the NYT article link. /mr
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 pinches saffron
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs parsley
2 cloves garlic
3/4 pound boned and skinned cod or halibut (fluke or sea bass may be substituted), cut into 2-inch pieces
6 peeled and deveined medium shrimp
4 sea scallops
Juice of 1/2 lemon or gurgle of verjus
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup rich fish broth
1/2 cup white wine
slices of toasted country bread.
1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, carrot, saffron, bay leaf and parsley. Peel and crush 1 garlic clove and add it to the pan. Boil for 10 minutes. Add the fish broth and wine, bring to a rapid simmer. Add the fish, shrimp and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. and cook until the fish is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, adding more saffron, lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired.
Rub the toasts with the remaining peeled garlic clove. Set a toast in the bottom of each of 6 bowls and ladle the soup on top. Serves 2.