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Bouillabaisse Recipe

Provencal French cuisine

The original bouillabaisse (bouï abaisso in Provençal, meaning boil and press "bout et abaisse") was from the Calanque coast between Marseille and Toulon , although it is said to be invented at Saint-Raphaël. Although called a soup, this is really a main dish, a full meal in itself.

Bouillabaisse was based on local fish, usually those unsold at the daily market, with other local shellfish added. Bouillabaisse was a "fisherman's" dish, and never contained any expensive ingredients such as lobster, although the common small green crabs were often used.

Bouillabaisse has many regional variations based on the different local fish, and the color can change from place to place because of the types of fish used.

Serves: 8 (a minimum, considering the variety of fish required)

The dish is prepared in two parts: first a "base" part is made, and then a "bouillabaisse" part, into which the "base" part is added.
Note: some of the fish names are given in French as an aid in purchasing; refer to the English-French Food Dictionary or the Seafood Dictionary for translations.

Base-part Ingredients Ingredients:

Assorted small rock fish (1 kg), including: labres (girelles or rouquier [roucou]), serran [partago], very small scorpènes, a mixture of small fish sold as "poissons de roche à soupe".

1 conger eel head [congre, tête]
12 small green crabs [favouille]
8 tomato [tomate]
2 leek small, white [poireau]
4 onion medium [oignon]

2 Tblsp olive oil [huile d'olive]
2 cloves garlic [l'ail]
1 bouquet garni [aromatic herbs]
1 orange peel
salt, fresh pepper [poivre]

Bouillabaisse-part Ingredients Ingredients:

10 cl olive oil [huile d'olive]
2 teasp saffron
1 kg potatos option

* Options:
- use either cigales de mer in the bouillabaisse part if they are available, or favouille (crabs) in the base part, but not both.
- potatoes are used only for a Toulon bouillabaisse

Scale and clean the fish, and rinse the crabs in cold water. Separate out the small fish and the crabs for the base part, and the larger fish for the bouillabaisse part. Then divide those for bouillabaisse part into the firm-fleshed fish and the softer (rascasse and congre).

Prepare the Base Part

1. Into a large stew pot put: the small fish, cut into chunks; the crabs; tomatoes, cleaned and diced; leeks; sliced onions; chopped garlic; olive oil; the tied bouquet of herbs.

2. Warm on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add 4 lt. boiling water and let simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper.

Prepare the Bouillabaisse Part

1. In a large frying pan on a medium-low flame, put: the hard-fleshed fish and (optionally) the potatoes, sliced.

2. Remove the bouquet of herbs from the base part, and pour the base part through a sieve into the pan, forcing through the sieve as required.

3. Add in the olive oil and saffron. If necessary, add some boiling water to ensure that the fish are in a good bed of liquid.

4. Turn the heat up high and boil for 12 minutes.

5. Add the soft-flesh fish (rascasse and congre) and boil for another 6 minutes, then remove from the heat.

6. While the bouillabaisse is bubbling, prepare the rouille.


1. Remove the large fish and cigales (sliced in two lengthwise) and put on a platter for self-serving.

2. Smear rouille onto slices of bread. Serve the bread-and-rouille and potatoes (optional) into bowls, and pour in the bouillabaisse broth.

Conversions 30 g = 1 oz = 2 Tbs   180 g = 6 oz = 3/4 cup  
1 kg = 2.2 lbs 1 lt = 1.06 qt  60 g = 2 oz = 1/4 cup 225 g = 8 oz = 1 cup
0.45 kg = 1 lb   0.95 lt = 1 qt 115 g = 4 oz = 1/2 cup   450 g = 16 oz = 1 pint

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