Nothing signifies a good summer meal than the Provencale classic bouillabaisse.It's a delicious blend of spices, and stock. served with toasted bread and aioli. The soup is a relatively easy recipe to make and a perfect way to enjoy the seafood of the season.
This southern French treat was the subject of Mark Bittman's How To Cook Anything column in today's New York Times Dining section. Mr. Bittman is a pro at recipes and he simplifies and walks the reader through the various and sometimes complicated steps.The most important facet about bouillabaisse is getting the stock right. This is the base for the perfect one and it has to be made correctly. Cooks also have to beg their local fish market for not only fish bones but lobster and fish shells. These last two are easy to get if you buy a lot shellfish. Another must is buying a good mix of fish , from scallops to halibut along with clams. Fish should be boned and chopped.
Now here's the tricky part of the dish. Bouillabaisse requires some fancy , expensive ingredients too . These include saffron which can run up to 65 dollars along with the pricey liqueurs of Pernod or pastis. These are fennel tasting drinks that bring out the different meld of fish , spices and vegetables.Can bouillabaisse be made without them. Saffron has a unique taste that is delicious. Without it the treat would just be a fish stew. An alternative is possibly buying the Spanish saffron which all grocery stores sell.It doesn't quite have the punch of a good one though.As for the liqueurs, possibly add more fennel.The recipe calls for one bulb but you can vary and add a second one to amp up the anise flavor.
Bouillabaisse is a wonderful summer treat. Make it to not only impress family and friends but to introduce them to this deliciousmeld of seafood and spices. It's a great way to celebrate the season.