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Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fisherman’s stew originating from the port city of Marseille in France. This hearty and flavorful dish features a variety of seafood simmered in a rich broth infused with aromatic herbs, tomatoes, and saffron. Bouillabaisse is not only a culinary delight but also a celebration of Mediterranean flavors and seafood. Here’s a detailed recipe to help you recreate this classic French dish at home.


For the Bouillabaisse:

  • 1 pound mixed seafood (such as firm white fish fillets, shrimp, mussels, and clams), cleaned and prepared
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1 can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 4 cups fish or seafood broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or several sprigs of fresh thyme)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
  • Crusty bread, for serving

For the Rouille (optional):

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Prepare the Seafood:

  1. If using whole fish fillets, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Clean and prepare the shrimp, mussels, and clams as needed.

2. Make the Bouillabaisse:

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, sliced fennel, leek, carrot, celery, and diced bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the diced tomatoes (with juices), fish or seafood broth, dry white wine, saffron threads, bay leaves, and dried thyme.
  4. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

3. Add the Seafood:

  1. Add the mixed seafood to the pot. Arrange the fish fillets on the bottom, then add the shrimp, mussels, and clams on top.
  2. Cover the pot and simmer gently for another 5-7 minutes, or until the fish is cooked through and the shellfish have opened. Discard any shellfish that do not open.

4. Prepare the Rouille (optional):

  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Mix well until smooth and creamy. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

5. Serve:

  1. Remove the bay leaves from the bouillabaisse.
  2. Ladle the bouillabaisse into serving bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.
  3. Serve hot, accompanied by crusty bread and rouille on the side for dipping.

6. Optional Serving Suggestions:

  • Enjoy bouillabaisse as a main course accompanied by a glass of chilled white wine, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Provencal rosé.
  • Serve leftovers the next day, as the flavors deepen and meld even further.

Conclusion: Bouillabaisse is a quintessential French seafood stew that brings together a variety of fresh seafood with aromatic herbs and spices. This recipe allows you to recreate the flavors of Marseille in your own kitchen, making it a perfect dish for special occasions or gatherings. Enjoy the rich flavors and textures of this classic Provençal dish with crusty bread and a dollop of rouille for a truly satisfying meal. Bon appétit!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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