Simple Seafood Bouillabaisse

Hey Courtney! Look at me, responding only 2 weeks after your post. Your risotto dish looks really good! The last time I made risotto was when I made a butternut squash risotto. Your’s looks better though because of the leftover turkey broth and the goat cheese. When I can find a not so gigantic size container of arborio rice at the grocery store, I will have to try your recipe out. Also, I’m on board with using tahini and lemon in lots of things. My roommates sometimes remark on the large quantities of lemon that I stock in our kitchen. I guess they  don’t know that a (Liz) Lemon party is mandatory.
Let me give you an update on what I’ve been doing with food lately. I just finished my 9 week CSA subscription, and I am really pleased with how it went. The produce was impeccable and I got a decent amount for the price. Plus, I got it delivered to my door each week! I will most certainly be renewing my subscription in the new year.
Part of the reason I joined a CSA is because it’s forcing me to be a more diverse eater. Plus all of the produce is seasonal and grown less than 30 minutes away from where I live. And it’s all amazing. The oranges in particular are so good. They are almost too sweet. There are some weeks though that I find myself in the dilemma where I get 2 or 3 heads/bundles of leafy greens in my box and I struggle to eat it all before they start to wither. The last two weeks I got 2 kinds of kale (dinosaur and rainbow kale…man this is sounding like I’m living in some fantasy, high brow foodie land). I have never eaten kale before and I really struggled with ways to eat my way through it. One week I took all of the stems and leafs that I had and stewed them like collards and it turned out alright. It didn’t really honor the ingredients though as it all tasted like ham hock and vinegar. However, I had this incredible salad at a restaurant called Whisknladle that featured kale tossed in a pistachio (!!) vinaigrette with pomegranate seeds and persimmons. Courtney it was divine. I haven’t perfected my reconstruction of it, but as soon as I do I will let you know.
In general though, I keep my meals simple since the quality of the produce is so good and because most nights I’m not up for spending more than 30 minutes cooking dinner. I’m sure you are shocked to hear this.

I am traveling a lot over the holidays. After flying home to Dallas, me and my dad drove a truck up with some furniture to Cincinnati for my brother, stayed there for a week, then flew back to Dallas, and now I’m about to fly to Charlotte to see the rest of my extended family. I will be racking up so many sky miles with all of the holiday traveling and weddings happening in my family (1 in November, 3 to come before the end of July) that maybe I’ll have enough to go on a semi-decent vacation. Probably not though.
Anyways, because of all this traveling I haven’t been cooking as much as I usually do. However, in the spirit of keeping things simple, I made a seafood bouillabaisse for my family just a few nights ago and I was pretty pleased with it. This recipe is pretty loose, but bouillabaisses are forgiving so don’t feel bad if you don’t have the exact amount of a certain ingredient or if you want more of a particular item. You should be tasting your broth after the addition of each ingredient so that you can adjust it to your liking. It should be tomato-y, garlic-y, and have a hint of wine taste to it. You can also get fancy and add different herbs and spices (saffron, etc.) but I’ll keep it simple here. A few more notes: I like to get whole tomatoes and chop them myself, but you are more than welcome to buy diced if that’s what you prefer. Also, if you are feeling extra fancy, you should sear your scallops in duck fat. Duck fat does an excellent job at forming crisp exteriors when searing, unlike any other fat I have used. You can get it at Sur la Table or online.

Simple Seafood BouillabaisseIMG_1880
Serves 3 to 4

Basic Shrimp Broth
Olive Oil
salt & pepper
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, roughly chopped
2 branches celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
12-16 large shrimp, shells on
2 1/2 cups water
2 sprigs thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 bay leaf

Bouillabaisse
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 onion, julienned
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs of thyme, or 1 tsp dried
1 can whole tomatoes, tomatoes chopped and juice preserved
1/3-1/2 bottle white wine
Shrimp Stock
1-2 tsp lemon juice
9-12 scallops
3 T vegetable oil / duck fat

Devein and deshell your shrimp, making sure not to throw away your shells! These have flavor that you’ll want in your broth. Set aside the shrimp meat until you are ready to assemble the bouillabaisse. Now, in large saucepan, briefly saute the onion, carrot and celery in olive oil until the onion is translucent but not browned. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and sautée until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp shells, water, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a simmer.  Let the broth cook at a gentle simmer for about 40 minutes. Periodically taste, adding salt if necessary, until you just begin to taste the fishiness of the shrimp shells. Set aside.

In a separate large deep skillet, sautée  the onion until translucent (“nutty tender”, as Judy Rodgers likes to write) making sure it does not brown. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and their juice along with the thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Add the wine and reduce until the sharp taste of the wine has mellowed a bit. Pour in the shrimp stock and bring to a simmer. Salt and pepper to taste. Let reduce over a gentle simmer while you prepare the scallops.

To prepare scallops, pat dry with a paper towel on both sides. Remove the small flap of white flesh on the side if there is one (this part is tougher than the rest and doesn’t lend much to the flavor or texture of the finished product). Heat the vegetable oil/duck fat over high heat in a skillet until shimmering and just about to smoke. Add the scallops to the pan in one layer, cooking in batches if you must, and cook only until the bottom of the scallops are golden brown. Flip and cook until the bottom is again golden brown. Remove from skillet and place on a plate. This should all happen within 5-7 minutes.
Lastly, add the shrimp to the simmering tomato broth and cook until it is no longer translucent. Add the lemon juice to the broth and ladle the shrimp and tomato broth over the scallops in a bowl. Serve with lightly toasted bread or over mashed potatoes**.

**Note: I rarely eat mashed potatoes without mashing celery root with them. It is a phenomenal flavor and doesn’t need nearly as much dairy I think. Mashing celery root is exactly the same as mashing potatoes: skin and cube it, boil it until tender, and mash away.

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention a rouille anywhere. Bouillabaisse should be served with a rouille, but it does have the unfortunate effect of making your breath reek of garlic. If you want a recipe, you should just google for one and find a good recipe for it. It’s pretty much like making an aioli except part of the binding agent is bread crumbs. I’m too lazy to type one up here.

Anyways, I hope PhD’ing is going well for you. I am glad to hear that the first chapter of your thesis is close to being done! Have you read any good cookbooks lately? Any crazy culinary literature?

Send my regards to the Athenians for me,
Eric

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