Bouillabaisse with Sauce Rouille and Croutes
Remo Berdux, Executive Chef, Ritz Carlton Seoul

While this dish requires time to create, it is certainly well worth the effort.

8 to 10 lbs firm white-fleshed fish like Parrot Fish, Rainbow Runner, Dog Tooth (Pacific Salmon) or Skip Jack Tuna
4 to 5 lbs "oily" fish like Spanish Mackerel or Mahi-Mahi
2 Live Lobsters cut in pieces

Gut, scale, and clean the fish. Save the heads, tails, and carcasses. Cut the fish into 4 x 2 1/2 -inch pieces.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 to 6 large garlic cloves, to your taste, finely chopped
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled and steeped in 1/ 4 cup hot water until needed

Marinate the fish in a large bowl or pan with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, the chopped garlic, and the saffron threads for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

5 Tbs unsalted butter
2 medium onions, sliced
8 cups cold water
2 bouquet garni, each consisting of 4 sprigs fresh parsley, 6 sprigs fresh thyme, 10 black peppercorns, and 1 bay leaf, tied in cheesecloth
1 cup dry white wine

Prepare the fish broth. Rinse the fish heads, tails, and carcasses in cold water. Break the carcasses into pieces. In a large stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat, then and cook the sliced onions until soft but not brown, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fish heads and bones and cover with the cold water. Put in one of the bouquet garni and the wine. Bring to a boil, skimming occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Strain the fish broth through a conical strainer and set aside to cool. Discard all the fish heads and carcasses. You will have 10 cups of fish broth when finished. Reserve 1/2 cup fish stock for the Sauce Rouille.

1 1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 leeks, white and light green part only, halved lengthwise, well washed, and thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 lbs ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
3 to 6 large garlic cloves, to your taste, finely chopped
1 long thin strip orange zest, with no pith
1 Tbs fennel seed
1/2 tsp saffron threads steeped in 1/4 cup tepid dry white wine until needed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Boiling water as needed
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs anise liquor such as Pernod or Ouzo
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then cook the chopped onions, leeks, and celery for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomatoes, the garlic, the remaining bouquet garni, the orange zest, and fennel seeds. Stir in the reserved fish broth and the saffron steeped in wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes.

When you are ready to prepare the final stages of the bouillabaisse, bring the broth back to a furious boil. Keep the broth boiling furiously so the oil emulsifies. Add the oily fish and boil, uncovered, over very high heat for 8 minutes. Shake the pot to prevent sticking. Now put the firm-fleshed white fish in and boil hard for 6 minutes. Mix the tomato paste and anise liqueur.

Carefully remove the fish from the broth with a slotted spoon and spatula or skimmer and transfer to a large bowl or deep platter. Arrange the fish on the platter more or less in the order in which you put them into the pot. Keep them warm by covering with a sheet of aluminum foil.

Strain the broth through a fine mesh strainer into a soup tureen or large bowl, discarding what doesn't go through. Whisk in the tomato paste-and-anise mixture. Sprinkle the platter and soup tureen with the parsley and serve with the croutes and sauce rouille on separate plates.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Sauce Rouille

1 1/2 cups diced French bread, white part only
1/2 cup fish broth (reserved from the making of bouillabaisse)
4 to 6 garlic cloves, to your taste, peeled
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground red chili pepper
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1 large egg yolk
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Soak the diced bread in the fish broth. Squeeze the broth out. Mash the garlic cloves in a mortar with the salt until mushy. Place the bread, mashed garlic red pepper, saffron, egg yolk and black pepper in a food processor and blend for 30 seconds then pour in 1 cup olive oil through the feed tube in a slow, thin, steady stream while the machine is running. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Store whatever you don't use in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note: If the rouille is separating, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of the fish broth and whisk it in until smooth and re-emulsified.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups


5 Tbs unsalted butter
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
40 to 50 slices French baguette bread (about 1 large loaf)

Meanwhile, prepare the croutes. In a large skillet, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat with crushed garlic until it begins to turn light brown. Remove and discard the garlic.

Lightly brush both sides of each bread slice with the melted butter and oil and set aside. When all the slices are brushed place them back in the skillet and cook until they are a very light brown on both sides. Set aside until needed.

Yield: 10 servings