On New Year’s Eve, we received a pleasantly surprising invitation from our neighbor, Lori, to come over and share a pot of her delicious Bouillabaisse. A Southern French specialty fish stew, Bouillabaisse originated in Marseille. ‘Bouillabaisse’ in French literally describes its cooking method – Boil the broth (bouillir) and lower the heat to simmer the various types of fish (abaisser). I think this “melting pot” stew depicts Marseille’s “fusion” atmosphere really well. A variety of different seafoods mix well together in the Bouillabaisse, making a meal that is intricately flavored. Just like that, in Marseille, the various cultural influences, which include the classic Neo-Byzantine Catholic Basilica, the century-old Fish Market and new Muslim North African shops, seem to mix well together, making Marseille interesting and complex. While looking back upon my mixed year of 2012, I’ve decided to replicate Lori’s bouillabaisse recipe in my California kitchen.

First, clean 1 lb monk fish, 1 lb Chilean Sea bass, 1 lb squid, 1 lb large shrimps, 1 lb clams, 1 lb scallops, 1/2 lb mussels, 1/2 lb salmon and 1/2 dozen fresh oysters. Remove the fish bones (if you have any) and peel off the fish skin and cut the fish fillets into 2-inch lengths. Next, boil the shrimp peels, 1 orange peel, the fish bones and skin in two pints of water for about 30 minutes to an hour. While the fish stock is cooking, heat 1/2 cup of 7th taste Ancho Chili Olive Oil in a thick cast iron pot and saute 2 onions (chopped), 4 cloves of garlic (crushed), 1 bay leaf and 2 lbs of tomatoes (pureed) for 5 minutes. Season with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon fresh basil (chopped), 1 teaspoon fresh parsley (chopped) and 1/4 teaspoon Spanish saffron. Subsequently, add monk fish, Chilean sea bass, clams and mussels to the pot. Next, strain the fish stock and pour it over to the pot and boil for 5 minutes. Next, add remaining seafood and boil for another 5 minutes. Then, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes. Finally, sprinkle some chopped parsley and grated frozen lemon peel (optional) and serve with sliced sourdough baguette.

This delicious French seafood medley is medium-bodied and incredibly smooth. Monk fish lends delicate elegance with a lobster-like texture. At the same time, Chilean sea bass and salmon bring a butteryness, while making it a fuller broth. Saffron, herbs, ancho chili olive oil and citrusy undertone also nicely accentuate the rich broth. This lovely bouillabaisse is simply melt-in-your-mouth. Try this recipe and stay warm on a chilly Winter evening. I want to thank Lori for sharing her recipe with us and wish your 2013 is as delicious as this Bouillabaisse. Happy cooking!

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