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Quick and Easy Bouillabaisse


Pronounced boo-ya-bess, it’s arguably the most famous fish stew to come out of France (Marseille to be precise). Like so many famous French dishes there are more opinions out there on what constitutes une vraie bouillabaisse (the real deal) than there are metro stops in Paris, which is why a bunch of chefs from Marseille got together in the 1980s to lay down the law. Their Charter became like a stamp of approval awarded only to restaurants that followed their very stringent rules. A bouillabaisse in the strictest sense will contain scorpion fish, John Dory, conger eel, weaver fish, anglerfish, sea hen and soup fish, along with a range of non-maritime yet carefully selected ingredients. But if you’re not planning on winning the Charter’s approval, just make a great base and add whatever seafood you wish!


TIME: 1 hour | SERVES: 4 – 6


for the soup

125 ml olive oil

2 onions, chopped

6 baby leeks or 3 large leeks, sliced and well rinsed

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 x 400 g tins whole tomatoes

5 sprigs fresh thyme

2 thick slices orange peel

pinch of saffron (optional)

salt and freshly ground black pepper

500 ml good quality fish stock

1,5 litres water

500 g  prawns, keep head and shell on but devein the prawns

2 lobster tails, shelled and cut into bite size portions

450 g  kingklip fillet, cut into bite size portions

700 g mussels, scrubbed and de bearded

for the roasted baby fennel

olive oil

5 baby fennels

salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the rouille

2 red peppers, roasted and peeled

1 red chili, roasted and peeled

30 ml lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, peeled

100 ml fresh breadcrumbs

10 g fresh flat leaf parsley 

salt and freshly ground black pepper

15 ml olive oil

for the bread

1 baguette

125 ml olive oil


for the roasted baby fennel

Heat the oven to 200 °C.  Drizzle a little olive oil in an oven dish. Place the fennel in the dish and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 20 minutes. The fennel must be soft. Take out and keep warm.

for the soup

Pour the olive oil into a cast-iron casserole. Heat on medium and add the onions and leeks. Fry until soft and translucent, then add the garlic, thyme, orange peel and saffron. Season with salt and pepper and add the stock and water. Cover the casserole with a lid and bring to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Strain the soup into a large bowl, discarding the solids. Pour the soup back into the casserole. Add the prawns and cook until they turn pink. Add the rest of the seafood, cover and simmer until cooked.

for the rouille

Remove the pips from the pepper and place in a food processor. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the olive oil) and season with salt and pepper. Purée until smooth, then add the olive oil.

for the bread

Slice the bread into thin slices. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and fry the bread on both sides until golden and crispy. Drain on a piece of kitchen towel.

Spoon the bouillabaisse into the serving bowls and garnish with the roasted fennel, fresh dill and chopped parsley. Serve with the rouille and fried bread.

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