Cathal Armstrong's Boullabaisse


Cathal Armstrong, chef and owner of Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, VA, makes the best bouillabaisse I've ever had.  If you can't make it to Restaurant Eve to try Cathal Armstrong's version, his recipe is below for you to make it yourself.


For the Broth:

  •     1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •     8 shallots, coarsely chopped
  •     2 leeks, white and tender green parts, coarsely chopped
  •     1 medium fennel bulb, cored and coarsely chopped
  •     1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
  •     1 teaspoon of tightly packed saffron
  •     3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  •     2 tablespoons tomato paste
  •     2 pounds non-oily white fish bones and heads
  •     4 thyme sprigs
  •     4 parsley sprigs
  •     2 bay leaves
  •     Salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Rouille:


  •     1 baking potato (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
  •     2 large egg yolks
  •     2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  •     1/2 roasted red pepper
  •     1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon harissa
  •     3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •     Salt

For the Soup:


  •     1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  •     2 garlic cloves, minced
  •     1 leek, white and tender green parts, finely diced
  •     1/2 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     1 baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     1 large tomato—peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  •     12 littleneck clams, scrubbed and rinsed
  •     16 mussels, debearded
  •     8 large shrimp (1/2 pound), shelled and deveined
  •     1 1/2 pounds snapper or monkfish fillets, cut into 2-inch chunks
  •     1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  •     3 tablespoons chopped basil
  •     8 thin slices of baguette, brushed with olive oil and toasted
  •     Lemon wedges, for serving cups   
  •     Season the broth with salt and pepper.



Step 1: To make the  broth: In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots, leeks, fennel and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes.

Step 2: Add the saffron and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the fish bones and heads, 3 quarts of water, the thyme, parsley and bay leaves and bring to a boil.


Step 3: Simmer over moderately low heat for 45 minutes.

Step 4: Strain the broth and discard the solids. Return the broth to the pot and boil over high heat until it is reduced to 6 cups, about 20 minutes. Season the broth with salt and pepper. The broth can be refrigerated overnight.

Step 5: To make the rouille: In a small saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the potato until tender, about 7 minutes. Drain well and transfer to a food processor. With the machine on, add the egg yolks, chopped garlic, red pepper and harissa and process to a puree. With the machine on, add the olive oil and process very briefly until it's just incorporated. Scrape the rouille into a bowl and season with salt. Cover and refrigerate. The rouille can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours.

Step 6: To make the soup: In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, leek and fennel and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Add the potato and cook until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

Step 7: Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Add the clams and cook over moderate heat until they start to open. Add the mussels, shrimp and fish and simmer until all of the seafood is just cooked, about 4 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and basil; season with salt and pepper.

Step 8: Spread the baguette toasts with some of the rouille. Spoon the bouillabaisse into 4 large, shallow bowls and serve with the toasts and lemon wedges. Pass the remaining rouille at the table.

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