Saturday, March 30, 2013

Good Friday Bouillabaisse


There is something nice about tradition, tradition is culture, a way of life and it is a sense of belonging, doing something as a tradition on special celebrations, gives one something to look forward to in life, for instance, a set time to spend with family or friends to enjoy some good times together.

We tend to have been creating a Good Friday tradition the past couple of years and it is one that I already love, gathering my sons and their loved ones together to celebrate Easter on Good Friday, coming together to eat and enjoy seafood stew with slices of crusty grilled bread lathered with roasted garlic and capsicum mayonnaise, it is all wonderful, the occasion, the company and the divine seafood bouillabaisse.

I love preparing the bouillabaisse, it is a marathon effort in the kitchen, taking 4 hours to prepare the base stock, but well worth the effort, the flavours are unbelievable, I don’t think there is another dish that gets taste tested during the cooking process as much as what this one does, it is sooo Moorish.

The best thing about this dish, is the fact you can get those for hours out of the way early in the day, then when your guests arrive it is just a matter of bringing the stock back to a simmer and cooking the seafood, which takes no more than eight minutes, I love it, it is by far my favourite thing to cook, I think the fact that it is saved for one or two occasions through the year helps to keep it special.

I first cooked Bouillabaisse about ten years ago with a recipe my brother Kevin had found in a magazine, the first time I tasted it I was hooked and I cooked that recipes a few times, before losing the rather tattered and crumbled page, I was devastated by the loss.  Then after buying Manu Feildel’s cookbook “Manu’s French Kitchen” I found I had now a recipe so close to the lost one, I had to try it, and the result was amazing, just as it had been a decade before.

Manu’s recipe includes a suggestion to have the garlic capsicum mayonnaise with the dish, and to my surprise the addition of it lifted an already magnificent dish to heights I would not have imagined possible, the mayonnaise brings richness to the dish, it really is amazing.

My wife Jo, for the past year has mentioned last Easter so many times, referring to the meal we shared and how much she enjoys it, wishing away the days so that she could sit before a bowl of it again, she has been a pest in the kitchen this morning wanting to check the flavours over and over again, she has only one complaint, that we have to wait until dinner time to dig in, when in her opinion Good Friday is the perfect day to have lunch.

Filleting the fish, the flesh will be cooked later, whilst the head, wings and frame will go in to make the stock.

Lots of preparation before the cooking starts

Sliced onion, fennel, leek and whole garlic cook stirring for 8 minutes in 100ml EVOO

Increase heat to high then add can of chopped tomato, 2 tblspn tomato paste, bay leaf, 3 twigs thyme, cumin seeds, 3 star anise, peppercorns and the zest of an orange, cook stirring for 6 minutes

Add the crabs, cook for 5 minutes then add the fish head and bones cook another 5 minutes

“Manu’s French Kitchen”

Pour in the dry white wine, Windy Creek Chardonnay is the perfect drop.

Stir wine in with bones and veggies, bring to the boil, cook for 12 minutes

Add 2 litres of water, stir through , bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, leave cooking for an hour.

Strain the stock into another pot, put the fish bones and crabs back in the big pot and crush the crabs up as much as possible

return the stock to the crushed crab shells and fish bones, stir through, return to stove and bring back to boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes

Clean the joint up a bit whilst it simmers

Now strain the stock through a fine sieve, return to the stove and add saffron, cayenne pepper, salt and ground pepper, make sure you are generous with the salt, it brings the flavours out, you are now ready cook the seafood. 

buon appetito

Roasted Capsicum and Garlic Mayonnaise, spread on grilled crusty bread and dunk in the soup, divine.

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