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Lazy Man’s Bouillabaisse with Lulu Peyraud’s Quick Rouille

Since we live in one of the great ocean fishing areas of the country, the temptation to eat the freshest seafood imaginable is an almost daily event.   The fishing boats go out early from Montauk and their catch is in our fish markets later that morning.   The waters abound in striped and black seabass, flounder, jumbo porgies, fluke, cod, monkfish, swordfish and bluefish.  This past weekend, local monkfish, the white dense fish with a taste vaguely similar to lobster, was to be had for $9.99 lb.  I call that price irresistible.  And it immediately brought to mind a great Bouillabaise I once enjoyed in Provence, north of Marseilles.   Bouillabaisse can be incredibly complicated to make: First of all, you need a great stock as a base for your creation.  No self-respecting cook would dare serve the dish without a “Rouille”, that overwhelmingly garlic-y saffron tinged sauce. essential to the dish.  And then there’s the fish itself.  Any self-respecting Provencale cook could find the requisite fish—rascasse, rouget, congre and lotte. The only one readily available is the lotte which is monkfish in French.  Still I was determined to use the underpinnings of the dish to make a Bouillabaisse. But I wanted one that would not restrict me to the kitchen for the bulk of the day. To the rescue came none other than The French Chef herself: Julia Child.

Now this is not my first post about Bouillabaisse.  Several years ago, I wrote a much more complicated version of the dish.  You can see for yourselves at http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2010/03/bouillabaisse-with-garlic-aioli-and.html.  At its heart, Julia reminded us, Bouillabaisse is just a simple Provencale fish stew. Look in Larousse Gastronomique. The dish was first cooked by fishermenthemselves on the beaches near Marseilles over a wood fire.  The fishermen added the least marketable of their catch to an aromatic cooking broth and served it over a piece of bread. Interestingly, the word “Bouillabaisse” refers to the method of cooking rather than an actual recipe. “Bouiller” (to boil) is combined with “Abaisser” to reduce.  Once you simplify down to that, I felt emboldened to make a simple and quicker version of the dish.  I also reasoned that since most of the classic Mediterranean fishes associated with the dish don’t swim off Long Island, my Bouillabaisse was never going to authentically Marseillais. So I poked around and came up with a recipe that was greeted with great oohs and ahhs from our dinner party guests.  At the risk of sounding exactly like my mother, for whom no cut was too short, I oohed and ahhed too.  But mine were based on the fact that I did not spend a day making the dish.  
Lulu Peyraud and her fantastic Rose
Domaine Tempier
Instead, I leaned on a couple of pints of fish stock from Citarella, our local fine foods emporium, augmented with chicken stock, garlic, shallots, and diced tomatoes and tomato paste, and some herbs from right outside our kitchen window.   On to the “Rouille” which means “rust” in French dueto its color.   Now this can be very complicated involving a potatoe, egg yolks, roasting a red pepper and adding another good 30 minutes effort.  Amazingly, I found a Quick Recipe in Saveur.  It has an impeccable pedigree.  Its creator is Lulu Peyraud, the matriarch of the winemakers responsible for one of Province’s signature wines: Domaine Tempier.  If you see it on any wine list, order it.  It’s like being in the south of France. Lulu Peyraud is a renowned cook for family and friends and much to my surprise, apparently shares my mother’s desire to simplify cooking into a minimal number of steps.  Her “Rouille” is ridiculously easy. 
Part 3 of making a Bouillabaisse is the final poaching in the enriched stock, to which you add a diced fennel bulb, a diced baking potato, more diced tomatoes, orange peel along with some chopped basil.  Most Bouillabaisse recipes call for shellfish in addition to whatever fish you are putting in the pot.  Initially I was going to add local mussels to the shrimp in mine.  At the last minute, seeing the vast quantities of both shrimp and monkfish, I left them out. Nobody missed them.  This whole dinner came together in 30 minutes flat on the stove.  Then it was just a matter of swabbing some toasted baguette slices with the Rouille, dropping them in bowls and pouring the steaming Bouillabaisse over them.  Garnished with some parsley and some strips of orange zest and voila!  The lazy man’s Hamptons Bouillabaisse!  Here is the recipe:
 
 

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek and fennel and cook over         moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add           the potato and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and       cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. 

 

2.

Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add shrimp and fish and simmer until all of        the seafood is just cooked, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil; season with salt and pepper.
  
 
 
 

3. 

Spread the baguette toasts with some of the rouille.  Place two in the bottom of each bowl. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

4.

Spoon the bouillabaisse into 4 large, shallow bowls and serve with the toasts and lemon wedges. Pass the remaining rouille at the table.
      

 

  



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