Jason Lalacona from Miel in Nashville shares his recipe for bouillabaisse, an intricate dish with layers of seafood, an aromatic wine-based broth, and the essence of saffron. The broth does double duty, making use of shrimp shells and fish scraps while also building a layer of flavor as a soup base. “You don’t have to use saffron if you don’t have it. Instead, try using tomato in the bouillabaisse broth,” Lalacona says.
Makes 2 quarts
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons saffron, bloomed in a small amount of water
2 pounds Canadian mussels
2 cups broth (recipe follows)
Rouille (recipe follows)
4 slices toasted bread
1 pound (U 16/20) shrimp, peeled with shells reserved
1 pound firm white fleshed fish such as snapper, grouper, or sea bass, cut into ½-inch pieces, scraps reserved
¼ cup chopped fennel
½ cup julienned sweet onion
½ cup julienned red pepper
3 garlic cloves
½ cup crisp white wine
1 tablespoon saffron, steeped in tepid water
2 slices thick brioche (white bread or seedless burger bun works as well)
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne
Pinch saffron steeped in 1 tablespoon water
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Juice from ½ lemon
2 egg yolks
½ cup olive oil
Warm water as needed
Make the Broth
- In a medium, dry pot, toast shrimp shells over medium heat. Once fragrant and pink in color, add fennel, onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté over high heat, being careful not to let it scorch.
- Once vegetables have softened, add wine to deglaze and stir vigorously. Once wine has reduced almost completely, add ½ gallon of water.
- Bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add steeped saffron. Stir and let rest for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside.
Make the Rouille
- In a food processor, pulse together bread, paprika, cayenne, saffron and steeping water, and garlic until it becomes a smooth paste. Add the lemon juice and pulse again. Add yolks and a pinch of salt. Pulse to combine the mixture.
- With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil. The result should the consistency of very thick mayonnaise. (If it doesn’t come together, keep processing and add a splash of warm water if needed.) Set aside.
Make the Saffron Butter
- Mix together butter with 2 teaspoons saffron and steeping water.
Make the Bouillabaisse
- In a deep, wide, lidded pot (large enough to hold double the volume of seafood to compensate for when the mussels open) add shrimp, fish meat, and mussels, and season generously with salt. Turn heat to medium-high and add enough broth to create a puddle in the pan, roughly 2 cups. (You do not need to submerge the fish as the mussels will release a fair amount of juice.)
- Cover pot and give it a few shakes periodically or gently stir with a spoon to bring contents from the bottom to the top; be careful not to break fish into pieces. After about 5 to 10 minutes, open lid to make sure that there is no shrimp or fish sitting on top of the mussels. If there is, simply move it to the bottom. Continue cooking until shrimp and fish are opaque and cooked through. The mussels should be cooked and opened at this point; discard any that are still closed.
- Stir saffron butter into broth until it becomes cloudy and creamy. Taste for seasoning and add minced herbs. Spread rouille over individual pieces of toasted bread. Serve bouillabaisse in individual bowls with toasted bread on the side.
Recipe ByJason Lalacona of Miel in Nashville