The soup of the sea gods. The story goes that French fishermen would throw the remnants of the day’s catch into a vast pot, add some local roots (garlic, onion, fennel) herbs (tarragon) a bottle or two of the local white wine, a glass of pastis (Pernod), and water and brew up the miracle soup.
My version is a little more flash but essentially sticks to the story.
Serve with toasted baguette slathered with gobs of aioli sauce followed by a light salad.
This is one of the great dishes of the world, easy to make well in advance leaving just a simple assembly at the end.
- Fish Stock (see below)
- Aioli sauce (see below)
- ½ fresh salmon steak per person cut in bite sizes.
- Any firm white fish such as Monkfish cut into bite sizes.
- 3 or 4 jumbo shrimp per person ( I use frozen from Publix).
- 1 packet crab sticks.
- 2 large scallops per person.
- I pack of garlic mussels per four people.
- Add any mixed shellfish that get your attention.
- Handful tarragon finely chopped.
- The Fish stock. This is a big secret. Don’t be afraid to cheat. I start with a large pot of lobster bisque bought on Mondays from our local Publix – that becomes the base. Meanwhile I store bones, carcasses, fish pieces and buy fish remnants to make up my own stock. My club chef supplies me with lobster carcasses. So:
- Mixed carcasses, bones and fish pieces to fill a large pot.
- Roughly chopped 2 cloves elephant garlic, 2 yellow onions, fennel.
- 1 large can chopped tomatoes.
- A squeeze of tomato paste.
- 2 or 3 stems of celery chopped.
- Large handful chopped tarragon.
- 2 oranges quartered.
- 4 or 5-star anise.
- 1 Knorr fish stock cube.
- 1 bottle+ dry white wine.
- 1 cup+ Pernod.
- Water to top up.
Combine all in a large pot, slow boil for 4 hours+, filter discarding solids, mix with the base. The stock should be thick enough to coat a spoon, if necessary boil it down till it is. Store in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Aioli sauce.
On the day make the sauce – a thick bright yellow olive oil, egg and garlic combo – simple but also a culinary miracle.
1 large clove garlic finely chopped.
1 egg yolk.
1 cup olive oil.
Salt and black pepper to taste.
Bunch of tarragon finely chopped.
Squeeze of lemon to taste.
1 fat baguette sliced and toasted.
Mix together the garlic, egg yolk, seasoning, tarragon in the bowl of a small liquidiser.
Add the olive oil in a slow intermittent stream whilst running the liquidiser. Take your time over this. about half way the mix should start to thicken.
Taste the very thick final sauce for seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon.
Store in the fridge.
- Final Assembly.
- Bring the stock to a slow boil, taste for seasoning, wine, Pernod, orange, more finely chopped tarragon – to suit your style.
- Micro wave the mussels as instructed and then shell the mussels.
- Add all the fish, mussels and the rest to the hot stock, boil slowly for 2-3 minutes and serve in soup bowls with the toasted baguette and Aioli on the side. I usually serve Champaign.
- Soak up the applause. This is almost a meal on its own. So a light salad and some ripe camembert will work to end with.”