A couple weeks ago, I actually overbought fresh scallops. This is not usually a problem in my house – my family can attest that I am quite capable of inhaling an extra large and rather unladylike quantity of scallops in one sitting. I actually had more scallops than I could sear in one pan and seared some more in a separate pan and still had some leftover. So, I wrapped the leftovers tightly and thought maybe we could eat them for lunch the next day. That never happened – it’s pretty rare in my house that we sit down to a formal lunch on the weekend. I started thinking about how I could incorporate them into dinner but stretch them out since there was only about a half pound of them left.
Although I had never made it before, the first thing that came to mind was bouillabaisse – fish stew. I wasn’t all that sure what else I would need, so I looked it up the best place I know – Fish, by Mark Bittman. Bittman explains that a variety of fish is good, shellfish and firm white fish, just not dark fish like salmon or tuna. I also needed fish stock. Luckily, I happened to have about five pounds of king crab legs in the freezer, and some frozen pollock. I grabbed three of the large crab legs and ran them under water until they were thawed enough to remove the shells with scissors. I reserved the meat, and tossed the shells into a pot to make my first ever fish stock.
I followed Bittman’s recipe for stock too, substituting the shells for the pound of fish head or skeletons called for. I added water, a whole onion quartered, a carrot cut into chunks, a clove of garlic, a small handful of peppercorns, kosher salt, and a little Chardonnay and set it all to simmer for about an hour. Bittman neglects to mention straining the mixture before using it, but I figured I probably didn’t want crunchy stock!
Bittman offers two different bouillabaisse recipes in his tome, and based on what I had around the kitchen, I mixed and matched from both until I had a simmering cauldron embodying the aroma of awesome.
Which is good, because it certainly didn’t look particularly awesome for picture taking while it was in the pot. It got a little more photogenic in the bowl though.
Observe the large, delicious chunks of crab meat, the succulent scallops and yes, even the lowly pollock which my husband thinks he doesn’t like but he liked just fine in this bowl fishy goodness. And of course, there was the sopping.
Oh. My. Goodness.
This is a pair better than peanut butter and jelly, or salt and pepper or maybe even Tanqueray and tonic. If anything was ever made for sopping up with good crusty bread, bouillabaisse is it. Booooo-yeah!!!!!
Bouillabaisse, adapted from Mark Bittman’s Fish
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes and juices
- 4 cups fish stock
- 1 cup dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 pound scallops
- 1/2 pound white fish, cut into chunks (I used pollock)
- 3 legs of king crab meat, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon butter
Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and cook until softened. Add the tomatoes, lemon juice and bay leaf and stir to blend. Add the stock and the wine, bring to a boil, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Add the fish chunks to the broth first and cook for five minutes. Add the scallops next and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the crab and season with the cayenne, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the crab meat is heated through and then add the butter and let it melt into the broth. Serve with lots of warm crusty bread for sopping!