Monday, September 3, 2012

The Lady's Bouillabaisse
Picture by Pat Farrell
I had a chance to try this seafood soup adapted from Paula Deen on the Food Network. My wife Norma loves most of what Paula demos on her show and was sparked to make this recipe. Norma and I love a well-stocked Cioppino; this one was spectacular and definitely will be made again.
  • 1 pound mussels
  • 2 pounds firm fresh fish fillets, such as grouper or striped bass
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 3/4 cups chopped onions
  • 5 Roma tomatoes, peeled and sliced, or 1 cup canned Italian tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter plus more, for the bread and plating
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
  • 2 crabs, cut in half  (I used 1 large Dungeness crab halved and can be quartered )
  • 1 pound unpeeled shrimp
  • 1 loaf French bread 
Wash and scrub the mussels in cold water. 
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large heavy pot. Add the mussels and cover the pot.* Steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until the mussels open. Discard any mussels that didn't open.
Remove from the heat and set aside. 
Cut the fish into 1-inch thick slices. 
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the garlic, onions, tomatoes, fennel, saffron, salt, and pepper. Add the mussel broth to the pot and 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the boiling water and clam juice. Bring to a rolling boil, add the crabs and fish, and continue to boil for 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mussels along with the shrimp, and boil for an additional 5 minutes.
Slice the French bread, butter it, and toast lightly. Serve the bouillabaisse in large individual bowls lined with toasted French bread; pile in the seafood and ladle the broth over it. Top each bowl with 1 tablespoon of butter. Pass the remaining bread at the table. 
*Cook's Note: If you like a spicier soup you may add a couple of whole hot peppers to the pot at the start of cooking.

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