BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - This is the Creole seafood soup that drew tribute from the famous English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray. In his Roundabout Papers, Thackeray recalls, “In New Orleans, you can eat a Bouillabaisse, the like of which was never eaten in Marseilles or Paris.” The reason is clear: the fish and shellfish from the Mediterranean Sea simply could not match the flavor and quality of those from the Gulf of Mexico, especially our redfish, snapper, crab, and shrimp. The word “bouillabaisse” comes from the term “to boil” and then “to stop boiling.” In other words, when the soup comes to a boil, immediately remove it from the fire and allow the ingredients to poach gently. This was the original technique for making the soup.
12 (4-ounce) redfish or other firm fish fillets
4 dozen mussels
1 pound crawfish tails
2 dozen (21–25 count) shrimp, peeled and head-on
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat
2 tbsps saffron threads
1 cup olive oil
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup diced green bell pepper
¼ cup diced yellow bell pepper
1 cup finely minced carrots
¼ cup thinly sliced garlic
2 fresh bay leaves
1 (28-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
1-gallon water or seafood stock
1 cup dry white wine
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Granulated garlic to taste
½ cup thinly sliced green onions
½ cup chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1½ cups prepared garlic butter
24 (½-inch) slices French bread crostini, cut on the bias
Method: Preheat oven to 350°F. Place saffron threads in a small cup and cover with ½ cup water. Place in microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave, quickly cover with clear wrap and set aside to steep. In a 2-gallon stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and bell peppers then sauté 3–5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add carrots and sliced garlic then cook 3–5 additional minutes, stirring often. Add steeped saffron mixture, bay leaves, and tomato with liquid, stock, and wine. Bring mixture to a rolling boil then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste using salt, cayenne pepper, and granulated garlic. Add green onions, parsley, thyme, and tarragon then cook for 5–7 minutes. Layer fish fillets, mussels, crawfish, shrimp and crabmeat into a stock mixture. Return to a low simmer, cover, and cook for 12–15 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste using salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Do not stir during the cooking process. When seafood is cooking, spread garlic butter onto crostini. Toast in the oven until slightly browned around the edges. Set aside. When ready to serve, using a slotted spoon, gently remove shrimp and mussels then transfer to a large bowl. Using a spatula, work quickly to transfer fish to a plate, taking care not to break fillets. To serve, place an equal amount of seafood in each of the 12 soup bowls, beginning with shellfish and ending with fish fillet on top. Ladle 6 ounces of simmering stock mixture over seafood into each bowl. Top each portion with a slice of buttered crostini and serve with an additional slice on the side.
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