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Ladyface Bouillabaisse

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Make the bases of this dish ahead of time: The fish stock will keep frozen for several months (it doubles as an excellent starter for cioppino or gumbo), and the broth becomes more complex if made a day in advance and refrigerated. For a traditional presentation, spread the baguette with rouille, a red pepper aioli.

Makes: 4 to 6

  • 1 pound fish bones (available at most fish markets and some supermarkets)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • ½ gallon water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 leek, washed well under cold water, sliced thin
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 pinch chili flakes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
  • ½ gallon fish stock
  • ½ gallon water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound white fish (such as cod)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
  • 1 pound Manila clams
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 leek, washed well and sliced thin
  • seafood broth
  • baguette, for serving



• In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the fish bones. Cook the bones, stirring constantly, until they just turn white, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vegetables, sautée another 2 minutes. 

• Add the water, bay leaves and thyme, and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or a kitchen towel and discard the solids.



• In a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, heat the butter until it foams. Add the leeks, fennel, onions and garlic; season lightly with salt and pepper and sweat until tender, about 8 minutes. 

• Add the tomato paste, chili flakes and thyme; stir vigorously 2 minutes. Add the potatoes, fish stock and water; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes. 

• For a chunkier broth, add the cream, season with salt and pepper, and refrigerate until you’re ready to make the bouillabaisse. For a thinner broth, puree the mixture in a food processor, working in batches and adding the cream a little at a time; season with salt and pepper and refrigerate. 


• Turn on the broiler. Lightly oil the shrimp and the fish, season with salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan; broil about 2 minutes, turn, and broil another 2 minutes.

• While the seafood cooks, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mussels and clams and sauté about 1 minute. Add the fennel and leeks and sauté until the vegetables have softened, about 2 minutes more. Add enough broth to the pan to cover the shellfish, reduce heat to low and cook until the shellfish just open. 

• To assemble the bouillabaisse, place the fish in the bottom of a shallow bowl, ladle the broth and shellfish over the top, and serve with a piece of oiled, grilled baguette. 



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