Bouillabaisse with Red Pepper Rouille
In their cookbook Classic Recipes for Modern People, New Yorkers Max and Eli Sussman joke that if you want to stake a claim to making “authentic” bouillabaisse, you’d better be a fourth-generation fisherman from Marseille who has been making the dish his whole life. Luckily, this version of the classic is both delicious and easy to make, even though the recipe was developed by two guys who grew up about 4,000 miles from the South of France.
For the rouille:
- 1/4 cup (1/2 oz./15 g) finely diced day-old sourdough bread (without the crust)
- 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
- 2 Tbs. minced roasted red bell peppers
- 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) vegetable oil
- 2 Tbs. ice water
For the bouillabaisse:
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
- 1/2 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and diced
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) dry white wine
- 2 cups (8 fl. oz./500 ml) water
- 1 lb. (500 g) littleneck or similar clams, scrubbed
- 4 hake or pollock fillets, each about 4 oz. (125 g)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, tarragon, chervil and mint
- Coarse country bread slices, toasted, for serving
To make the rouille, combine the bread, garlic, roasted bell peppers and rice and cider vinegars in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream and process until the mixture emulsifies. Then, as the mixture thickens, add the ice water and continue to process to achieve a texture similar to that of whipped butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a soup pot or Dutch oven over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks, fennel, tomatoes and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 30 minutes.
Raise the heat to medium, add the garlic, wine and water, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the clams, cover and cook until the first clam opens, about 8 minutes. Add the fish, cover and continue cooking, transferring the clams as they open to 4 bowls, until the fish is just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Discard any clams that fail to open.
Taste the broth and season with salt if necessary. Transfer the fish to the bowls and ladle the broth on top. Garnish with the herbs. Spread the rouille on the toasted bread and serve alongside. Serves 4.