Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bouillabaisse and rouille

I have yet to find Pernod, a primary ingredient in bouillabaisse, and I refuse to take as many steps as are called for in Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook. Nevertheless, this was a wonderful soup.

I always save my scraps for souping, including shellfish shells. I don't know if they have much flavor — crabs and lobsters have tons of flavor in the shells, though — but I figure, why not? This time, though, our biggest pot couldn't fit all the shells and tops of leeks, celery, and fennel, so we had to do it in the canner.

Oh, and the fish heads. Turns out that Berkeley Bowl sells "chowder fish" (heads and fins) for $1/lb: look on the top shelf of the freezer across from the fish counter. Especially as it gets colder and we start souping more, I'm going to be frequenting that freezer.

In any case, barely cover the stock ingredients with water, add dried bay leaf, fennel seed, celery seed, aniseed, and peppercorn, and simmer at least an hour. If I had thought of it, I would have thrown in some seaweed too.

Then make the rouille: homemade garlic mayonnaise with saffron. I had a lot more trouble with it than I normally have, I think because Joy called for much more water than I normally add to my aiolis. (She thickens the rouille with breadcrumbs. I guess rouille should also have roasted eggplant, but we didn't have any, and didn't want to overpower the soup anyway.) What should work is the following. Pound in the mortar and pestle many cloves garlic and as much saffron and as you can afford, with a little salt to help the garlic pastify. Mix with 1/2 tsp boiling water or broth, and let steep half an hour. Then whisk in 1 egg yolk and between 1/2 cup and 1 cup olive oil, and adjust the salt. Refrigerate a few hours until ready to serve, and plan on whisking again right before setting out.

When it's close to dinner time, chop onions, leeks, fennel, and celery into a mirepoix, and sauté with salt and olive oil in the bottom of a large pot. Cover and cook until onions are translucent, and then add garlic and mushrooms. Sauté a bit more, until the garlic overcomes the onions. Set a strainer over everything, and ladle in stock, straining out the previously frozen bits. (You may have leftover stock: after dinner when it has had time to cool, strain it well and then ladle into wide-mouth pint mason jars (one of the only freezer-safe kinds), label, and freeze.) A splash of white wine, a splash of Pernod, a splash of anise extract (all different sized splashes), etc.

When the soup has come to a boil, add 1/2 pound snapper or other rockfish, cut into 1/2-inch strips, and add 1 lb mixed clams and mussels. Boil ten more minutes while you set the table and open a very chilled bottle of dry white wine.

Remove soup from heat, and salt to taste. Let cool five or ten minutes and cut up a loaf of french bread.

Serve bowls of soup with a slice of bread, covered in rouille, floating in each. Set out more bread and rouille at the table.

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