Bouillabaisse had fairly humble beginnings as a soup cooked by fishermen in Marseilles, Provence. Fish not destined for market were boiled in a cauldron on the beach with shellfish and spices. Traditional bouillabaisse contains several kinds of fish and must include scorpion fish. Saffron, orange zest and fennel are some of the other key flavours. Guillaume’s recipe uses fish from Australian waters, which he chops, boils and processes – bones, head and all. The mixture is strained to give a thick, velvety puree, and then Guillaume goes to town adding scallops, mussels and crabmeat. He finishes the soup with toasted slices of baguette spread with potato rouille (this tastes marvellous even without the soup). It’s a dish to pop in the middle of the table to delight all of your friends.
- 3 red mullet, cleaned and scaled
- 3 leatherjackets, heads removed, skinned and cleaned
- 3 rock cod, cleaned and scaled
- olive oil
- 1 thick strip of orange zest
- 1 fennel bulb, sliced
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed with the back of a knife
- 1 handful of thyme sprigs
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
- 100 ml Pernod
- fish stock
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
- sea salt
- 1 baguette
- 500 g mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
- 12 scallops on the half-shell
- 250 g picked crabmeat
- chopped flat-leaf parsley
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Use a cleaver to chop through the body of each fish at around 3 cm intervals – the fish may or may not stay connected in one piece.
Heat a generous splash of oil in a pot over medium–high heat and sauté the fish (heads included) for 5 minutes. Add the orange zest, sliced fennel, celery, tomato, garlic and thyme and mix well. Stir in the tomato paste, fennel seeds, saffron and Pernod and cook for 3 minutes. Slowly pour in enough fish stock to just cover the ingredients and simmer for around 40 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, make the rouille. Boil the potatoes whole in their skins until soft. Meanwhile, sit a large mixing bowl on a folded damp cloth (to keep it stable) and add the egg yolks and mustard. Whisk well. Add a little grapeseed oil and whisk until well incorporated. Keep adding small amounts of oil and whisking well after each addition. The mayonnaise should begin to thicken once about 60–80 ml of oil has been added. Then you can start adding the oil in a thin and steady stream down the side of the bowl while you continue whisking.
When the potatoes are cooked, drain and leave to cool for a few minutes before peeling off their skins. Place in a wide bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Add the garlic, saffron and salt to taste and continue mashing to combine. Fold in the mayonnaise.
When the soup is cooked, tip the contents (bones and all) into a blender and blend until smooth. Do this in several batches if necessary. Pass through a fine sieve back into the pot, pressing out as much liquid and flavour as you can.
When ready to serve, slice the baguette thinly and toast the slices in a hot oven until crisp and golden. Return the soup to the heat and check the seasoning. When simmering, add the mussels and cook until their shells open.
Lay the scallops (raw on their shells) around the base of a large serving bowl (or in individual serving bowls). Scatter with the crabmeat. Ladle the hot soup and mussels over the top. Sprinkle with parsley. Spread potato rouille generously onto the baguette croutons and float them on top of the soup.