New Year’s Eve Eve Bouillabaisse

Ostensibly, this blog is supposed to be about our family, but I love food and food is no small part of our family.

I love hunting and fishing for food, gathering and growing food, cooking and preserving food, experimenting with food, and to share both the food that I make, and my ideas with others, so I’m going to document some of my experiments/favourites here. If it becomes distracting or annoying we will figure out a solution to segregate any food posts that I make so as not to detract from the main purpose of this blog. I also love booze, so watch out for that too…

So, to get to the point, we sent some deer and elk meat from our bountiful hunting trip this year back east for Christmas with our friend Matt. Matt generously reciprocated by bringing back 4 nice lobsters for us which we made short work of, but the best was yet to come!

I had been wanting to make a bouillabaisse (a french seafood stew) for a couple of years and with the big pile of lobster shells we finally had the opportunity to make a stock which would do the bouillabaisse justice.

Below are recipes for the lobster stock and the bouillabaisse we cooked up for our dinner on the eve of new year’s eve.

Lobster Stock
Lobster Stock

Lobster Stock

Makes approximately 2 litres of stock. Use within 3 days or freeze for 3 months

Ingredients:
  • The shells/carcasses of 4 medium lobsters including the Tomalley (smashed)
  • 3-5 large carrots (very roughly cut)
  • 1-2 large onions (very roughly cut)
  • 1 fennel bulb (very roughly cut)
  • 3 large stalks of celery (very roughly cut)
  • 4-8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (roughly cut) or 1 14-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 3-5 sprigs of thyme
  • the juice from ½ – 1 lemon or 1-2 cups of dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of Vegeta (this is one of my secret ingredients for a number of dishes)
  • 1-2 table spoons of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • enough water to barely cover the contents of the stock pot (very roughly 3-4 litres)
Preparation:
  1. Smash the lobster carcasses up to facilitate the extraction of all the great flavours and to expose and little bits of meat and fat that might be left. Hopefully you saved any tomalley which might not have been eaten
  2. Roast or saute the smashed lobster shells and roughly cut vegetables in a few tables spoons of oil in order to develop the flavours. If you were to make the same sized batch, sauteing would require many batches.
  3. Dump the roasted/sauteed shells and vegetables into a stock pot, add the rest of the ingredients except the wine/lemon juice and barely cover with water
  4. Cover and boil at a low boil for up to 2 hours until the water has extracted lots of flavour and the stock has begun to condense, half way through add the lemon juice/wine and remove the lid.
  5. Strain through a strainer/colander/chinois, be patient, press a little if you like but not too much or you  may extract too many bitter flavours.
  6. Strain again through a couple of layers of cheese cloth

I actually forgot to add the lemon/white wine and it turned out excellent but I’m sure it would have been even better had I not forgotten.

This amazing stock can be used in all kinds of ways like gravy (lobster poutine!), soup, risotto, curry, as a braising/poaching liquid etc.

Bouillabaisse

Serves 4-8 (4 if that’s all your eating or 8 as a side)

Technically, you are supposed to use a white fish stock for this recipe, even beyond that, the kinds of fish that you can use to make a stock for a bouillabaisse are strictly controlled. As with most of the recipes I make, I’ve taken some liberties here, particularly with the use of the lobster stock.

Ingredients:
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped)
  • 4-7 cloves of garlic (smashed and diced)
  • 1 small to medium fennel bulb (finely chopped)
  • 1 pound of waxy potatoes – any potatoes that aren’t too starchy/mushy (chopped)
  • 2-3 tomatoes (chopped) or 1 14-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 2 litres of lobster stock
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of saffron
  • 3 pounds of white fish – any combination of snapper, halibut, monkfish, grouper, cod etc
  • ½ a pound of prawns
  • ½ a pound of clams in the shell (cleaned)
  • salt to taste (it won’t take much if you used the lobster stock listed above)
  • pepper to taste
  • ½ cup pernod (optional)
Garnishes
  • garlic croutons / toasted baguette with garlic butter
  • ¼ cup of parsley diced
  • Rouille (not optional)

My lobster stock was already well flavoured with thyme and bay leaves, if your stock didn’t have these, add some to the soup.

Preparation:
  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot, saute the onion and fennel in the vegetable/canola oil until translucent, add garlic and saute for another minute or so until garlic and onion just start to brown
  2. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, lobster stock, saffron, salt and pepper, simmer until potatoes are tender, roughly 10-15 minutes
  3. Add Pernod and thicker pieces of fish and simmer for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add thinner pieces of fish and prawns and clams or any other seafood which won’t take long and simmer for 5 minutes or until all seafood is cooked, clams or mussels if used should open.
  5. Add a few croutons to each bowl, add a selection of seafood to each bowl, pour broth and vegetables over fish in each bowl and garnish with some parsley and a teaspoon of rouille
  6. Serve additional rouille on the side
Bouillabaisse
Bouillabaisse

Traditionally, the seafood is supposed to be served separately from the broth and vegetables but I prefer to serve it altogether.

Instead of clams which Janet does not like we substituted ½ a lobster tail cut into bite sized pieces per bowl which we had saved from our lobster feast the previous night. You could also substitute mussels or scallops or squid for any portion of the seafood.

You don’t need to use fire-roasted tomatoes but fire-roasted tomatoes are preferable in most applications in my opinion.

You may have noticed the amounts of garlic listed have a big range, that’s because we love lots of garlic. Like almost an unreasonable amount of garlic. If you like garlic but not in a pathological fashion as I do, you should probably lean towards the lower end of the spectrum listed.

Author: Kyle Maclean

IT Guy during the week, hunter, mountain biker, and snowboarder on the weekends. I was born and raised in Calgary and attended the U of C where I completed a Bachelors of Science in Computer Science. Shortly after graduating I got a job with Calgary Alternative Support Services as a Systems Analyst and I've been there ever since.

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