Northwest Bouillabaisse
  • Complexity: Advanced
  • Srv: 6
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • By: Sweet Laurette

For the Soup


  • 5 to 6 lbs. assorted fish bones, fish scraps, and small gutted whole fish. (fish heads are great too, avoid super oily fish, like salmon and mackerel) I like to use halibut, cod, rock fish and monkfish scraps
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
  • 2 leeks (most of green top removed) or 1 large onion, thinly sliced across
  • 4 cloves garlic, leave whole
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped coarse
  • 1 medium bouquet garni
  • 1/4 cup Pernod or Ricard
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1 Tb. water for 30 minutes
  • 1 lb. mussels, de-bearded
  • 1 lb. clams
  • 1/2 lb. halibut or ling cod, cut into big chunks
  • 1/2 lb. salmon
  • 1/2 lb. shrimp, 20-21 count, peeled

For the Rouille


  • 2 small red peppers, roasted and peeled
  • 2 slices white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1 Tb. water for 30 minutes


  1. To make the rouille, soak the bread with 3 tablespoons water, then squeeze dry with your hands. Put the roasted red peppers, bread, egg yolks, cayenne, salt, garlic and saffron in a food processor and pulse till well mixed. Gradually add the olive oil in a thin stream, mixing until the rouille is smooth and has the texture of thick mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate the rouille until needed.
  2. To make the soup, scrub the mussels and remove their beards. Discard any mussels that are already open and don't close when tapped on the work surface. Cut the fish into large bite-sized pieces. Rinse and drain the clams. Peel the shrimp, leaving on the end tail section. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan and cook the fennel, leeks or onions and the garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes or until golden. Stir these until they smell fragrant, about 5 minutes, and add the fish bones and heads and whole baby fish if using. Turn the heat up to high, stirring every minute or two to make sure that nothing on the bottom of the pot is burning or sticking. After about 20 minutes the fish will have fallen apart completely- it won't look pretty- but keep stirring so nothing burns. Continue this way until a brown caramelized layer forms on the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes more, and pour in the white wine. Boil the wine until it evaporates completely. Stir in the tomatoes and enough water to cover- about 1 quart. Add the bouquet garni and pour in the 1/4 cup olive oil. It will gently emulsify into the stock. Boil the broth for 15 minutes and stir in the Pernod. Work the broth through a heavy duty strainer with a wooden spoon. Then strain through a fine mesh strainer. You should have about 1 1/2 quarts. Add the saffron and it's soaking liquid to the broth.
  4. Final preparation:
    Bring the fish broth to a gentle simmer in a pan large enough to hold the shellfish and fish. You may have to use two pots. Layer in the clams and cover with a lid and allow to just open, about 5 minutes. Next add the mussels, and when just opened, add the fish pieces and shrimp. Cover again and allow to gently cook on low heat. When fish and shrimp are just done, remove them, the mussels and clams and arrange into large shallow bowls. At this point, you can add some rouille to the broth, and stir in, or, drizzle it over the top of the dish once you've ladled the broth over the seafood. I like to serve grilled slices of baguette alongside the bouillabaisse with the remaining rouille.
  5. Enjoy and bon appetit!