This mock bouillabaisse is so scrumptious that you would never know it had anything “left over” in it. You do have to stop and pick up a dozen or so fresh mussels and a few clams the day you’re making it, but otherwise everything else is at hand, and you can put this together in half an hour. I am assuming, of course, that you have a good fish stock in your freezer; if not, plan to make this after you’ve had a lobster or a supper of steamed mussels and have some of that intense lobster or mussel broth left. Otherwise use clam juice, diluted by half with water because it is quite strong.–Judith Jones
LC I Beg Your Pardon, What's Pistou? Note
Pistou, a term which Ms. Jones bandies about easily but without explanation, means slightly different things to different folks. It came to be in Provence, in the South of France, where basil grows abundantly, its fragrance and flavor a classic and omnipresent accompaniment to almost everything. The condiment is simply basil pounded with garlic and olive oil in a mortar and pestle and served as a dollop on a soup or a spread on bread, although should you not happen to have any basil, Ms. Jones offers an alternate condiment, one that’s pictured above and is equally French. “If you don’t have any pistou on hand or time to make it, try mashing to a paste a small clove of garlic and a little salt, and then mixing that in with a tablespoon of mayonnaise. Whisk in a few pinches of paprika and a dash of hot pepper. Purists would not approve, but you can cheat a little when you’re by yourself. Nobody is looking.” There you have it.
New England Bouillabaisse
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 30 M
- Serves 1
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 2 cups fish broth (see headnote)
- A few flat-leaf parsley stems
- Pinch of fennel seeds
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 4 or 5 small clams
- 1 dozen mussels
- A piece of freshly cooked or leftover cooked fish, whether white fish or salmon (about 4 ounces)
- A sprinkling of chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 2 slices French bread, toasted
- A generous dollop of pistou (see LC I Beg Your Pardon, What’s Pistou? Note above)
- 1. Heat the oil in a medium pot, and sauté the onion and garlic gently until softened.
- 2. Add the tomato, sauté another minute, then pour in the fish stock and seasonings, tasting to judge how much salt and pepper you need. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
- 3. Add the clams. If you’re using fresh fish, slip that into the pot now. Clams always take longer than mussels, so give the clams a few minutes before adding the mussels. If you’re using leftover cooked fish, slip that into the pot now along with the mussels. Cook until the shellfish opens. Discard any that do not open.
- 4. Sprinkle the parsley over the bouillabaisse and sit down to it with a couple of slices of toasted French bread spread with pistou.