How to Make Fisherman's Bouillabaisse at Home

How to Make Fisherman's Bouillabaisse at Home

A bouillabaisse is a traditional French stew featuring an assortment of seafood. This Indian adaptation has been made with seer fish, rawas, sea bass, and prawn, in an aromatic broth of slowly simmered fish heads.

On the stove, a pot with fish heads and bones, cooked down with onion and garlic, bay leaves and sweet paprika, has been simmering for forty-five minutes. It’s going to be an intense stock. "I can't remember where I first had it, or even where I last had it. But whenever I’ve lived near the sea, I’ve always made bouillabaisse." Read the full story of Jeet Thayil's bouillabaisse.

Recipe for Jeet Thayil's bouillabaisse, adapted from Daniel Young's Bouillabaisse du Pécheur

Jeet Thayil cooks Bouillabaisse

Fish Stock
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large onions, minced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
300 g fish heads and bones
6 to 8 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
2 sprigs thyme
3 bay laves
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sweet paprika
Squeeze of lime

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed stock-pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook gently. Do not let them turn colour.
Add garlic and lower heat in required.
Add fish heads, bones and scraps, raise heat to high and cook, stirring often, careful not to crush the fish parts. 7 to 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne and sweet paprika. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes.
Pour boiling water over, lower the flame and simmer for 25 minutes.
Pass the mixture through a food mill, pressing down with a wooden spoon so that the juices seep out.

1 kilo of fish, cleaned and dried (Choose Seer, Rawas, Indian sea bass and prawn)
1 tbsp Chardonnay
1 ½ tsp saffron threads
¾ cup olive oil
3 large onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic
1 bulb fennel
6 to 8 plum tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground Kerala black pepper
½ kilo potato
Fish stock
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

Cut the fish into uniform pieces, about 3 inches wide. Place all the fish pieces into a large mixing bowl. Add the Chardonnay, saffron and half cup olive oil, and mix well, careful not to bruise the fish. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.
Heat the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
Add onions and cook gently. Make sure the onions do not turn colour.
Add 3 garlic cloves and fennel, and continue to cook, careful not to let the ingredients burn.
Add tomatoes and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper, and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
Place the potatoes in an even layer at the bottom of the pot. (Preferably, sauté in butter first, for approximately 7 minutes)
Top with fish in even layers, and pour enough water to just cover the ingredients in the pot.
Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Add in the prawn.
Correct the seasoning, add cayenne if needed. Ladle in stock to taste.

To serve, delicately remove all the fish and potatoes from the soup with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Pour the soup through a strainer to remove the vegetable pieces. 
Arrange the fish, potatoes and soup in a bowl.
Rub the toasted baguettes with a garlic clove.
Have the diners place a slice of baguette at the bottom of a shallow bowl and ladle the soup over.

This recipe is a #1000Kitchens feature!