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For the Love of Fish

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Show the one you love just how much you care by serving up this amazing bouillabaisse. You know I love to share my own recipes, but sometimes the best comes from another chef.

In this case, Mark Bittman’s Bouillabaisse from The New York Times fits the bill. It’s delicious and I highly recommend this dish for the ones you love this Valentine’s Day.

Ingredients

  • Good olive oil, as needed
  • 4 to 8 thick slices good bread
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 carrot, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 medium new potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, trimmed and chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron, optional
  • 3 cups lobster or fish stock
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes, with their juice (canned are O.K.) 
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds chopped boneless fish and shellfish, preferably a variety
  • 8 littleneck clams
  • 8 mussels
  • 2 sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod or other pastis, optional 
  • Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish 
  • Chopped basil or parsley, for garnish 
  • Rouille, optional

Method

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees; brush bread liberally with olive oil, and bake on a sheet, turning once, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
  • Add enough olive oil to a Dutch oven, deep skillet or shallow pot to make a thick layer (don’t skimp) on the bottom. In it, cook onion, garlic, celery, carrot, potato, fennel and saffron until glossy. Add stock and tomato and bring to a moderate boil; cook until thick and stewy rather than soupy. Season to taste; it should be so delicious that you don’t even care whether you add fish.
  • Lower heat to a simmer, and, as you add fish, adjust heat so that the liquid continues to bubble gently. Add fish in order of how long they will take to cook. Monkfish, striped bass and squid are fish that might require more than a few minutes, so add them first. About five minutes later add clams and mussels, holding back any fish that has been cooked or will cook in a flash. When mollusks open, add remaining fish. Cut scallops into quarters and place in the bottom of 4 bowls.
  • Add pastis if you’re using it; taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle hot soup and fish over the scallops, distributing clams and mussels evenly. Garnish and serve with croutons and rouille, if you’re using.

Tip: To make rouille, add 1/2 cup finely minced roasted, peeled and seeded red bell pepper, 2 cloves finely minced garlic and cayenne to taste to either homemade or store-bought mayonnaise.

We asked our beer expert and proprietor of St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe in Brooklyn, Heather Burns, what we should pair with our bouillabaisse. Heather explained that the perfect pairing for such a naturally flavorful seafood stew should complement and not overpower or compete with the flavors. A light, crisp pilsner would be a perfect, refreshing beer to enjoy.  She recommends the Von Trapp Bohemian Pils, a Czech-style Pilsner made in Stowe, VT and named after the Von Trapp family chronicled in one of her favorite childhood films, The Sound of Music. It’s everything you want in a pilsner: light-bodied, perfect for everyday drinking with the traditional German hops and comforting “biscuity” malts- a real crowd pleaser! 

If you find yourself in Brooklyn, stop in and say hello to Heather at St. Gambrinus Beer Shoppe!

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