Eat: Clam and Calamari Bouillabaisse

22Sep10

 

A lot of people hold the misconception that Bouillabaisse is difficult to make, most likely because its French and it involves fish. The truth is, its really just all about the stock. If you can get the soup base right, you can throw in just about any white fleshed fish or shellfish and come out with a fantastic dish.

Clam and Calamari Bouillabaisse

To make a delicious soup base, sweat down 1 large sliced yellow onion and 1 sliced sliced leeks in ½ cup of olive oil. Stir in 2-3 cups chopped fresh tomatoes (or 1 3/4 cups canned tomatoes in the winter), and 4 cloves mashed garlic. Cook for 5 more minutes.

Add 2 1/2 quarts water, a handful of fresh or dried herbs (parsley, bay leaves, thyme, basil and fennel seeds are great. You can also add saffron or any other exotic spice, but make sure to taste along the way), a pinch of pepper, 1 tbsp salt, and approximately 3-4 lbs of left over fish trimmings, such as fish head, bones, and shells (or substitute 1 quart clam juice and 1 quart water, but then don’t add any salt) to the kettle. Bring to a boil, skim, and cook, uncovered, at a slow boil for about 30 to 40 minutes. Strain the stock through a fine mesh sieve.

When you are ready to make the bouillabaisse, bring the soup base to a rapid boil in the kettle about 20 minutes before serving. Add clams and calamari (of course, you can also use lobsters, crabs, mussels, scallops and any other white fish you have on hand). Bring to a boil for 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. Serve with a loaf of fresh baked french bread and good wine.

Bouillabaisse with 2007 Flowers Pinot Noir

 

Wine pairing: We paired the bouillabaisse with 2 different wines. First, we finished off a bottle of the 2007 Brander Sauvignon Blanc– the minerality and soft velvety texture was a great combination with the saltiness of the soup. We then moved onto a bottle of 2007 Flower Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast. The pinot worked well because it had a light smokey undertone, which balanced out the fattier fish. I’d also recommend a rose from Bandol or a Sauternes for a more classic pairing.

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