Bouillabaisse is a traditional French fish stew made from the freshly caught seafood of the day. This is a Cornish bouillabaisse using fish and shellfish caught around the Cornish coast. Absolutely perfect for a winter evening meal.
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Bouillabaisse recipes are best made using firm meaty fish which will not fall apart during cooking.
Cornish bouillabaisse recipes feature red gurnard which has a firm texture and are really good to eat. You probably won’t find them in the supermarket fish aisle but any good fishmonger will have them or can get hold of them for you.
If gurnard is not available, use a fresh meaty fish such as cod, snapper or monkfish.
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For the mash:
- 1 kg floury potatoes such as King Edward or Maris Piper, peeled and cut into even chunks
- 150 ml full-fat milk or cream
- 50 g butter
- 2 tsp salt
For the bouillabaisse:
- 5 tbsp olive oil
- 2 shallots or 1 onion roughly chopped, skin and all
- 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped, skin and all
- 1 small fennel bulb chopped
- 2 whole gurnards about 600g total weight, filleted (ask for the head and bones if done by a fishmonger)
- 100 ml ml/3½fl oz dry white wine
- 600 ml ml/21fl oz water or fish stock
- 2 large tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 strips orange peel
- Pinch of saffron
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- 250 g prawns shell on, or 6 or so cooked langoustines, cut in half lengthways
- 12 live mussels in the shell scrubbed and debearded
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the mash:
- Boil the potatoes in salted water for about 20 minutes, until cooked through. Drain well and wait for the steam to die down so they are fairly dry. Push the potatoes through a potato ricer, whisk with an electric whisk or use a masher. When there are no lumps remaining, add the milk or cream and butter and beat and until light and smooth.
To make the bouillabaisse:
- Heat the oil in a fairly deep, wide pan and fry the shallots, garlic, fennel and gurnard heads and bones until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the wine, water or fish stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, orange peel and saffron. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook for 30–40 minutes.
- Working quickly, pour the mixture into a sieve and push the tomato mixture through the sieve with a wooden spoon or the back of a ladle (alternatively pass through a mouli) to extract as much flavour as possible from the fish bones and vegetables. Discard the solids.
- Rinse the pan and pour the soup mixture back into it, then heat through, seasoning to taste with the cayenne, salt and pepper. Add the gurnard fillets and prawns and cook for 2 minutes, then add the mussels and cook for a further 2–3 minutes until the mussels have opened (discard any mussels that do not open).
- Spoon some mashed potato onto each warmed plate and top each with some of the fish, prawns and mussels, then spoon over a little more of the sauce. Serve immediately.