I have to apologize to Angie and all her lovely guests. I missed Fiesta Friday last week for a very selfish reason: I needed a break from the blogosphere. Sometimes you just want to go back to your little introverted life and do completely ordinary things (and not blog about it). I ended up doing yard work last weekend, which is quite ordinary but surprisingly relaxing.
Also, I’m tired. So, so tired. I can’t imagine what things will be like in the fall – it will be the first semester that I will be teaching, working full time in the field, and helping DP with his newly opened gym…all at the same time, rather than two of the three. I often ask Noonie, how do busy people manage to have kids?
Yikes! I can’t allow myself to get caught up in future thoughts, not when there is bouillabaisse to be made.
I haven’t prepared this recipe in a long time; each time I do, it’s a little bit different. I always aspire to make it correctly – you know, with 5 types of fish, saffron, rouille, and fish stock. But the cost involved was astronomical in my eyes, considering I was a broke college student when I first started making it.
This is how it always happens: I walk up to the seafood section of the grocery store, eyes a-gleaming, eager to snatch up a rich assortment of fruits de mer. After just a minute of perusing, I quickly realize my dreams are bigger than my wallet. I grab the cheapest filet, half a pound of shrimp, and a handful of mussels. Then I slink away with my tail tucked between my legs. When I serve DP a bowl, I apologize for not thinking he is worth the full cost of a proper bouillabaisse. He shrugs and hoovers down a couple servings because he doesn’t know the difference/couldn’t care less – as long as he’s fed.
But this time, I live in a city of fishmongers! Also, I have joined the legion of the gainfully employed (depending on your definition of “gainfully”). I figure I’m at least twice as likely to make better bouillabaisse than ever before.
Is tonight the night? Will glory be mine at last?
I found the following recipe from Food & Wine and made some alterations. I had bai kee-hoot but no bay leaves, so in the spirit of “use what you have,” it became Southeast Asian-French fusion. After much consideration, I did not make a rouille because it just seems superfluous (sorry, Frenchies). Serving with a crusty baguette is just as tasty and saves time.
You wouldn’t believe what I went through to find these ingredients! The fishmonger closest to the gym didn’t have a lot of filet options, and it was a bit pricy for my cheap self. A 300-pound man with an eye patch talked loudly over me. I couldn’t find fish stock and didn’t have time to make any, so I substituted with vegetable stock, clam juice, and minced anchovies. Only one grocery store in town had fennel – I almost gave up! But I pushed on. For you, Fiesta Friday fans, I ran out of the gym without stretching in order to scrounge up these ingredients.
You are more than welcome to try your hand at Julia Child’s recipe (she doesn’t use rouille either). As for me, I’m not trying to impress any French chefs – just a guy who eats peanut butter sandwiches for a week straight when I’m out of town.
Poor Crasian’s Bouillabaisse
2. Add fish stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook over low heat until vegetables are tender. Discard bai kee-hoot and chilies.
3. I do not puree and strain the broth. It seems like a total waste of fennel and leeks. You may choose to strain, as per the original recipe.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add the seafood. Clams and mussels should go first, then fish, then the shrimp. Bivalves should open completely and shrimp should be light pink. Fish should not be translucent.
6. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve with a toasted slice of baguette.