Pictured: 'Kai Moana' - our special NZ Bouillabaisse
There are as many recipes for great fish soup as there are cooks and imaginations. They are served around the world and always rich in history. In every case the story of its creation is about a fisherman using his unsold catch along with shellfish which could be picked up on the beach to put together a meal for the family. That is when it all began, the Bouillabaisse of France, The Cioppino of Italy and the Zarzuela of Spain.
From those humble beginnings the soup grew to a show of abundance, actually over abundance. Every exotic species imaginable was included such as lobster or crayfish, crab, prawns, and the largest variety of fish obtainable, not local fish but fish shipped around the world as chefs tried to match the “authentic” recipe of a place of origin and out do competitors with bigger and better.
Today we are all paying the price of massive overfishing, which has resulted in depleted fish stocks around the world. We all need to support those who are fighting to bring about a healthy ocean balance.
In addition, on an individual basis you too can support sustainable seafood and still enjoy the pleasure and nutrition of consuming a great seafood soup…. guilt free!
THE BROTH INGREDIENTS
It is best to make the broth the day before and let the flavour develop by refrigerating overnight. Also leaves more time for the cook on the day.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onion
Lots of fresh chopped garlic (1/4 cup at the most)
2 cups diced tomatoes in puree
1 medium sliced fennel bulb (reserve the tops for the fish marinade)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
2 bay leaves
1 cup white wine
2 cups fish stock***
*** Fish Stock Options:
1. Make a proper stock using fish heads and frames.
2. Buy a high quality fish stock.
3. Add a 100 gms of Monk Fish into the broth.
Although making a heads and frames fish stock is the best, it takes time and dedication, otherwise either option 2 or 3 will still yield a fine soup.
COOKING THE BROTH
Add olive oil, diced onions and sliced fennel to the soup pot and simmer until translucent. Next, add the tomatoes, sea salt, pepper, bay leaves, chopped garlic and chili flakes. Now add the white wine and stock (or Monk Fish), then simmer until reduced by one quarter. Cool to room temperature and chill overnight, if time allows.
Saute 600-700 gms (1- 1 ½ lbs) Stargazer or Monkfish and a variety of other fish in olive oil and garlic. Remember that the goal is for all fish and shellfish to be cooked to the point of doneness only when the soup is served. Add the largest pieces of fish first, then 500 gms (1 lb) tenderised squid, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings and tentacles, 18 to 20 clean clams or cockles, and 12 mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded.
FINISHING AND SERVING: Prepare the GARLIC BREAD (Fettuna)
Grill or toast a slice of a sturdy, sourdough bread then rub the surface with a peeled garlic clove, which will sand off some garlic, and drizzle with a good extra virgin olive oil.
Prepare the CHILE AIOLI, Mix Mayonnaise, Chipotle Puree and fresh garlic puree (to taste),
Place a slice of garlic bread into the bottom of each bowl
As the shellfish begin to pop open, remove using tongs and portion shellfish into each bowl, then with a slotted spoon, portion out the fish.
Go back to the Broth and whisk in the chili aioli along with the juice of a lemon. Continue stirring until you have a smooth broth before pouring over the fish and shellfish in each bowl. Garnish with chopped parsley. Place bowls of chili aioli on the table for guests to add more if they choose.