Bouillabaisse French Seafood Stew

Bouillabaisse stew

Anne Leonard

Bony fish leftover from a fisherman’s day out to sea were what sparked the beauty of what we now know as bouillabaisse. Bouillabaisse is a traditional French gumbo-like stew that's characterized by a complex, aromatic saffron and fennel broth overflowing with the freshest seafood. Prop up a toasted baguette slathered with a cocktail sauce-esque rouille, and you’re ready to plunge into this scrumptious stew. Preparing a bouillabaisse isn’t for the weak, or the "plum tuckered out," as my grandmother says. Luckily, it was my birthday dinner, so my husband returned from three separate grocery stores ready to take the reins on this one. I sat back, sipped on a glass of pinot noir and nonchalantly chopped a few vegetables here and there in anticipation of a lovely evening.

chopped veggies

We were originally inspired by an exceptional meal at Eurasia a couple years ago and have been dreaming of making it ourselves ever since. We let Emeril Lagasse guide us through the cooking process, but we made a few substitutions to make it our own. For starters, we added shiitake mushrooms and potatoes, excused the call for an egg yolk and swapped saffron for rosemary. But don’t worry; the flavor was not compromised. The most prominent essence of this bouillabaisse is the citrus smack from the orange. The roasted red pepper rouille garnished across the perfectly crusted baguette could be an appetizer all on its own, but when it’s dipped to soak in the broth, it a whole new dimension of flavor.

Yield: 6 servings





6 cloves garlic, minced

1 yellow onion (Vidalia preferably), diced

3 tbsp olive oil

32 oz seafood stock (1 container)

A few heavy splashes of white wine

Splash of clam juice

Few sprigs of thyme

2–3 bay leaves

1 tbsp peppercorns

Salt and pepper



1 cup leeks, thinly sliced

1 cup fennel, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced

1 golden potato, diced

Zest and juice of 1 orange

A few sprigs fresh rosemary

A few fennel fronds

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 lb halibut, cut into 1 inch chunks

8 clams, cleaned

6 mussels, cleaned

4 jumbo shrimp with shells on

Salt and pepper



1 red pepper, roasted

3 cloves garlic, peeled

Dash of Dijon mustard

1 slice of French baguette, diced

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper


1 French baguette, toasted and sliced




Heat oil in large saucepan; add onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add remainder of broth ingredients, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring throughout. Strain the broth, and pour back into the saucepan.

Bouillabaisse cooking broth


Add leeks, fennel, tomatoes, potato, orange juice and zest, rosemary, fennel fronds and parsley into the saucepan with the broth. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add halibut; cook for 10 minutes. Add shrimp, mussels and clams. Cook for 6–8 minutes or until shells open. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.



In a food processor, purée all the ingredients except for the olive oil. Once puréed, slowly add olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.



Serve bouillabaisse in a bowl. Take a piece of toasted baguette, and spread a layer of rouille. Ladle on seafood. Dunk bread into broth. Eat and repeat until your bowl is clean!

Bouillabaisse in a bowl dinner

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