2 whole sand whiting (soft-fleshed), cleaned
4 kg whole fish (see Note), cleaned
3 john dory fillets (firm-fleshed), skin on, cut into 6 pieces
4 (about 800g) thick blue-eye trevalla* fillets (firm-fleshed), skin removed, cut in half widthwise
125 ml (½ cup) olive oil
2 leeks, thickly sliced
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 thyme sprigs
2 dill sprigs
5 parsley stalks, leaves picked and chopped
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3 strips (about 5cm) orange peel
1 pack (0.5g) saffron threads
4 ripe tomatoes
2 blue swimmer crabs, cleaned*, quartered
toasted baguette slices, to serve
Rouille (garlic and capsicum sauce)
2 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
2 large red capsicums
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
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.
Remove and reserve head and tail from whiting and cut each body into 2 pieces widthwise. Remove fillets from whole fish, reserving heads, tails and bones, and cut each fillet into 2 pieces. Place all fish on a large plate, separating firm-fleshed fish and soft-fleshed fish. Refrigerate until needed.
Heat 60ml oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, onions and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes or until leeks and onions are softened. Stir in thyme and dill sprigs, parsley stalks, black peppercorns, bay leaves, orange peel and saffron. Add 3.5L water and reserved fish heads, tails and bones, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 45 minutes. Strain, discarding solids, and reserve 2L stock.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Cut a small cross in the skin at the base of each tomato then blanch in boiling water for 20 seconds. Remove from water and refresh immediately in a bowl of iced water. Cool, then remove skins from tomatoes and discard. Cut tomatoes into quarters. Remove and discard seeds, then chop flesh.
To make rouille, place bread in a bowl with 2 tbs reserved stock. Stand for 10 minutes to soften. Using tongs, hold each capsicum directly over a gas flame, turning until blackened all over. Transfer to a bowl, cool slightly, then rub off charred skins. Carefully cut open capsicums (juices will still be hot) and discard seeds. Roughly chop flesh and process in a food processor with garlic, paprika and soaked white bread to a paste. Gradually add oil until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Place firm-fleshed fish and crabs in a large, heavy-based saucepan with remaining 60ml oil, chopped tomatoes and remaining reserved stock over high heat. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add soft-fleshed fish and cook for a further 5 minutes or until fish is just cooked and crab shells turn bright orange. Remove pan from heat, season with salt and transfer seafood to a serving plate. Pour bouillabaisse into a soup tureen and scatter over chopped parsley. Serve with seafood, rouille and toasted baguette.
Choose a mixture of firm- and soft-fleshed fish such as red rock cod (firm), red snapper (firm), moonfish (soft) and ocean perch (soft).
Blue-eye trevalla is often labelled as blue-eye cod at fishmongers.
To prepare crabs, break off tail flaps on the underside and discard. Cut each crab in half lengthwise, then carefully pull off the back shells and reserve. Remove the 'dead man’s fingers’ (soft gills) and discard, then rinse and discard the stomach sac.
Photography by Brett Stevens.