“Few dishes, except for perhaps cassoulet or New England clam chowder, are cause for such argument as bouillabaisse. Much of this has to do with the freshness of the fish and its source. Purists insist that the fish come from the Mediterranean and even recommend seven specific fish. Some say that to be “authentic”, bouillabaisse should be made in sight of the Mediterranean; the less rigid concede that a decent bouillabaisse can be had in Paris.
There are several factors that define a bouillabaisse. It is based on a broth made from miniature fish, fish too small for any other use, sold for this purpose in Provençal markets. The broth is typically finished with a sauce rouille. “Rouille”, meaning “rust,” is a mayonnaise made with garlic and olive oil like an aioli but that also includes saffron and sometimes cayenne. Whole fish are poached in the broth and the two served either as separate courses or together.
A bouillabaisse laden with a variety of fish is indeed a thing to behold. There is only one problem— most Americans don’t know how to contend with whole fish. Another problem is the lack of “soup fish” in American fish markets with which to make the broth. To contend with this problem, the bouillabaisse shown here is made with filleted fish. The heads and bones are used to make a flavorful broth and the fillets are poached in the broth at the last minute.
One last fine point—here we quickly sauté the skin side of the fillets to cook the skin and prevent it from contracting when it is poached in the hot soup. If the skin contracts, the fillets curl.
Once the broth is made and the fish poached therein, some of the broth is whisked with the rouille and the rest of the rouille served on the side for drizzling over the soup or for spooning onto toasted slices of baguette, which always accompany a bouillabaisse.” ~ James Peterson
For more on Peterson’s approach to preparing Bouillabaisse please visit his Blog HERE.
Fish Assortment for Bouillabaisse
Preparing the Fish
Creating the Soup and Sauce Rouille
Finishing the Dish
About James Peterson and This Recipe:
Jim Peterson is a renowned food author whose fifteen cookbooks have earned him seven James Beard Awards. He is also an accomplished photographer and shoots his own pictures to illustrate his step-by-step processes for preparing his dishes. This recipe was conceived and shot by Jim especially for Browne Trading from his home studio in Brooklyn, NY in early September 2013 using fish sourced and provided by Browne Trading. Learn more about Jim Peterson at his website and blog, www.jimcooks.com.
All photos are Property of James Peterson, Courtesy of Browne Trading Co. and may not be used without Permission.