How to make it

  • Note: If you decide to make the fish stock ahead, it must be used within 2 days or frozen and defrosted. Use only the freshest fish. Monkfish, sea bass, and ocean perch or red snapper make up our favorite combination, but you can create your own according to the related tasting, "Choosing Seafood for Bouillabaisse". The chopped vegetables for the stock must be fairly small (no larger than 1 inch in diameter) and evenly cut. The rouille must be made the day you are planning to serve the bouillabaisse.
  • 1. Combine all fish and shellfish marinade ingredients in large nonreactive bowl; toss well, cover flush with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 4 hours.
  • 2. Meanwhile, stir fennel, carrot, onions, and oil together in 8-quart heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover pot and set over medium-low heat; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are fragrant, about 15 minutes. Place garlic in large heavy-duty plastic bag and seal. Smash garlic with rolling pin or meat pounder until flattened. Add smashed garlic to vegetables and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are dry and just beginning to stick, about 15 minutes more. (Take care not to let garlic burn.) Add wine and stir to scrape pot bottom, then add tomatoes and their juices, leeks, fish frames, shrimp shells, parsley stems, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and 4 cups water. Bring to simmer over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, pressing down on fish bones occasionally with wooden spoon to submerge, until stock is rich and flavorful, about 1 hour.
  • 3. Strain stock through large fine-mesh strainer or chinois into large bowl or container (you should have about 9 cups); rinse and wipe out stockpot and return strained stock to pot. Bring stock to boil over high heat and simmer briskly until reduced to 8 cups, about 10 minutes. Off heat, add orange zest and saffron. Let stand 10 minutes to infuse flavors. Strain stock through mesh strainer and set aside.
  • 4. Return fish broth to clean 8-quart stockpot and bring to rolling boil over high heat. Stir in marinated fish and shellfish along with mussels, cover pot, and return to simmer; simmer for 7 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand until fish is cooked through and mussels have opened, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper; ladle into bowls, and float one garlic-rubbed crouton topped with dollop of rouille in each bowl (see related recipes). Serve immediately.

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