I went to the manager and told him the air was not working in and in his very french way he shrugged and said that happens some times. He had a fan, I asked for it, he said no, and the discussion was over.So we opened our windows to catch a bit of a breeze, but of course the cours Mirabeau was the place to be, and it was the place to be until 3am……when the cafes finally emptied, and all was quiet, we breathed a sigh of relief and slept…….for an hour, because at 4am the street sweepers came out and stayed out until 6am…..and then they began to set up for breakfast…..sigh
As we struggled out of bed and headed for breakfast, we tried to be happy, we were of course in Aix, one of the most beautiful cities in France, and after breakfast we found a market, and sampled fruits and made our purchases for the train ride to Paris. Life was good, we were exhausted, but life was good!
The train station was only a few blocks away, and it was packed, but we had time…..when I finally made it to the window, I was told I was at the wrong station, we wanted the TGV, and it left in 10 minutes!!
We couldn’t make it, but we could go to Marseille and get the TGV from there. Ok, its not that bad, so I asked for tickets to Marseille on the local train, that all the other passengers had just boarded, I was told No, the train workers had just gone on strike. Can you imagine……but I could get the bus to Marseille, of course I could…lol….and where was the bus? Oh just around the corner 500 meters away.
So we boarded the bus and headed to Marseille, and that is where our story began, as we waited in the sweltering heat for 3 hours for the TGV to Paris. But it was a story to tell, and it only got stranger as we got to Paris, but that’s a story for another day.
We weren’t there long enough to have a meal, but we did promise each other to come back one day and enjoy that beautiful old port city, where today’s post originates from. So my friends, I give you my version of the classic fish stew, Bouillabaisse.
There are a few essential ingredients that make bouillabase what it is, of course we need fish, and a lovely fish stock, but from there you can add what you have on hand, or what you like. For me that was shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels. For the stock you need celery, fennel, orange rind, and of course saffron, again adding other spices and vegetables you enjoy, tomatoes, bay leaf, basil, fennel seed, and leeks make a nice addition too. I’ll even let you in on a little secret, feel free to add a bit of chicken stock to your fish stock if you would like it to have a sharper flavor, I don’t know how else to describe it but fish stocks can taste a little soft to me, so I do add a bit of chicken stock just to fortify the taste.
I will admit that I did not make it in the classical tradition as a simmering stew, I wanted each ingredient to remain intact and to taste exactly as it would if eaten separately, so my ingredients were not all combined until the very end. I hope you like it!
6 jumbo shrimp peeled and deveined
6 large scallops
6 little neck clams
4 oz of fish of your choice ( I used red snapper)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 quart of fish stock (with a little added chicken stock)
10 strands of saffron
1/2 fennel bulb diced
1 celery stalk diced
2 cloves of garlic diced
pinch of fresh thyme
black pepper to taste
2 cups Rice cooked with chicken stock and saffron
Prepare your stock with any fish scraps, shrimp shells or other seafood shells you may have, let it simmer for about an hour or longer if you can, and add a little bit of chicken stock (about 1/4 of the total) allow this to continue to simmer as you work through the rest of the dish.
Next prepare your rice, I made it like I would any other rice only using some chicken stock in place of the water and adding 8 strands of saffron. Cook your rice and keep warm.
As you begin to bring the dish together for the finish in a saute pan add your fennel, celery, and garlic and saute in a little bit of olive oil.
After about 2 minutes add your fish pieces and sear them well on both sides, not add your scallops and sear them on both sides also.
Add the clams, mussels and shrimp, orange rind, and thyme, cover and allow to the mussels and clams to steam open, this should take about 6 minutes.
When the clams and mussels have opened add a splash of white wine to de-glaze the pan and release all of the flavors stuck to the pan back into the dish.
Your rice should still be warm and your stock should now be boiling.
Add one one large spoonful of the saffron rice to the bowl and place the fish on top of the rice.
arrange the mussels and clams in the bowl, and add the shrimp and scallops.
Ladle the boiling stock into the bowl and serve immediately with crusty bread.
There are many different ways to serve bouillabaisse this is just my take on this classic dish, and I do hope you give it a try sometime.
That’s it for today my friends, I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Don’t work to hard, remember to try and enjoy life a bit, and please remember to enjoy a few good meals. Life is too short to live on fast food! Thanks for stopping by!