Made in Marseille: Food and Flavors from France's Mediterranean Seaportby Daniel Young
Marseille, once notorious for its assorted mischief, has recently experienced a cultural renaissance, establishing it as a Mediterranean capital of film, fashion, music, literature, and, most assuredly, cuisine. From the city's beloved, world-famous bouillabaisse to enticing émigré flavors to venerable street treats to classic and contemporary Provencal
Marseille, once notorious for its assorted mischief, has recently experienced a cultural renaissance, establishing it as a Mediterranean capital of film, fashion, music, literature, and, most assuredly, cuisine. From the city's beloved, world-famous bouillabaisse to enticing émigré flavors to venerable street treats to classic and contemporary Provencal bistro fare, this culinary crossroads, the Paris of Provence, offers an exciting array of tempting foods that, while global in scope, have a folksy, made-in-Marseille personality. Join Daniel Young, author of The Paris Café Cookbook, as he explores the authentic flavors of France's oldest city, its great southern gateway, extending from the Marseille of antiquity, found intact in the limestone cliffs of the rocky coastline, to the Marseille of romantic intrigue, still apparent in the labyrinthine passageways of the historic Panier quarter, to its storied center, the Vieux Port. Of course there's bouillabaisse: an entire chapter on this legendary fish stew-soup, including rustic, home-style Marseille recipes adapted so they can successfully be made with North American fish—not entirely authentic but wholeheartedly delicious. There are many other definitive fish recipes from this seafood lovers' paradise as well, including the legendary pan-fried calamari with parsley and garlic from Chez Etienne and the foolproof formula for grilling fish from the Restaurant L'Escale. In addition, there are aromatic appetizers, traditional and newfangled desserts, savory pastries, meat and chicken dishes, and hearty vegetable stews, all prepared with the building blocks of the healthful, French-Mediterranean diet: olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, olives, basil, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, almonds, figs, and honey.
It's a full cookbook, offering 120 recipes and also a remarkable portrait of France's "Second City." With evocative black-and-white photographs by Marseille native Sébastien Boffredo, Made in Marseille is a lively panorama of the food, flavors, culture, and mystique of France's vital and fascinating cosmopolitan seaport.
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Fond De Poisson Pour Bouillabaisse Marseillaise
Fish Stock for Marseille-Style Bouillabaisse
This is the fish stock in which a bouillabaisse marseillaise -- the classic soupe d'or -- is prepared. In Marseille, the stock is made with tiny, cagey, flavorsome Mediterranean rockfish and eels: congre or fiela (conger eel), girelle (rainbow wrasse), sar rouge (from the sea bream family). I was not able to identify anything similar being widely available in North American fish markets, with the notable exception of purveyors in New York's and San Francisco's Chinatowns. As a result, it is necessary to use fish heads, frames, bones (perhaps from the very fish you will be using in your bouillabaisse) to extract as much flavor as possible. Ask your fishmonger which of his small and medium fish heads would be most suitable for a fish stock. Relatively bland fish (whiting) and oily fish (mackerel, bluefish, sardines) are out. The greater the variety the better the soup will be. Make sure that the fish are scaled and that the gills are removed.
Makes 4 Quarts
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, minced
2 leeks (whites only), minced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
3 pounds small to medium-sized fish heads, frames, and bones
6 to 8 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
Peel of 1 orange, cut in strips
1 celery stalk, cut in pieces
2 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons pastis (Ricard or Pernod)
Freshly ground black pepper
4 quarts boiling water
1. Heatthe olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions and leeks and cook gently, stirring often and making sure the onions and leeks do not turn color, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring often and lowering the heat if necessary so that the mixture does not brown, until the onions and leeks have softened and "melted" into the olive oil.
2. Add the fish heads, bones, and scraps, raise the heat to high, and cook, stirring often and vigorously without concern about crushing, mashing, or otherwise bruising the fish parts, until the fish heads begin to fall apart, 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes, orange peel, celery, thyme, bay leaves, cayenne, and pastis; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring continuously, and lowering the heat slightly if necessary to prevent burning, for 10 minutes.
4. Pour the boiling water over all, lower the heat, and cook at a simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Pass the mixture through a food mill or chinoise, working with small quantities of fish scraps and vegetables, wetting down with the bouillon to ease the flow. Be sure to press down on the fish scraps with a pestle or wooden spoon so their juices seep out. When crushing and squeezing the fish through the food mill or chinoise, do not give up early. Some of the tastiest and richest juices will be the last to be extracted. Use the hot bouillon judiciously, periodically wetting each batch of fish heads, bones, and scraps at the bottom of the food mill or chinoise to help you press out the juices. When you are sure there is no more juice to be had, discard the fish scraps and begin anew with the remaining batches. Let cool. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to use.
Marseille chefs generally advise against preparing a bouillabaisse stock with mussels because their strong flavor changes the essential nature of the dish. Adding the juices of steamed mussels may, however, be encouraged whenever the supply of rockfish and their characteristic flavor is either limited or nonexistent. To prepare the mussels: Place 24 to 30 scrubbed and debearded mussels and 1 cup of water in a potover medium heat, cover, and steam the mussels, shaking the pot frequently, until the mussels open, about 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon, set aside, and, if not preparing the bouillabaisse until hours or days later, refrigerate. (The cooked muscles should be served alongside the fish and potatoes from the finished bouillabaisse.) Pour the mussel broth into the fish stock.
One of the great challenges in putting together this cookbook was identifying suitable North American replacements for the distinctive Mediterranean fish used in an authentic bouillabaisse. Jacques Dupuy helped me undertake this courageous task. Together we sampled and analyzed the flavors and character of a rendition at a Marseille restaurant famous for bouillabaisse. Later we attempted to concoct a genuine-tasting interpretation and thus create a fine recipe using only fish from the Atlantic.
According to the Charte de la Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, a 1979 charter drawn up and signed by eleven restaurants, the classic soupe d'or must be prepared with at least four of the following fish types to be genuine: rascasse (scorpion fish), chapon (similar to rascasse), galinette (a gurnard), Saint Pierre (John Dory), monkfish, and fielas (conger eel). For an American without access to -- or spare cash for -- expensive imports, getting a hold of two of these fish, much less four, is a tricky business. But let's start with the easy part: There is no excuse for making a bouillabaisse without the one definitive fish that is readily available: monkfish.
American counterparts to rascasse, chapon, and fielas can be fished from the Pacific Ocean kelp forests and rocky sea bottoms off the California coast. But due to a number of environmental factors, the California eels, rockfish, and moray eels are increasingly rare. Most of us will have to make do without them.
John Dory is, however, found in quality fish markets. And red mullets, a great Mediterranean passion, may also be available (if they are, snatch them up). Otherwise, the best, widely distributed replacement fish are (in order of preference): red snapper (to replace rascasse), halibut, porgy, pompano, turbot, striped bass, Chilean sea bass, grouper, tilapia, hake. Whichever you do choose, variety produces the best possible bouillabaisse. Fillets are easier to work with, but, by eliminating the bones, their flavor goes with them. I am, however, generally against the addition of shellfish. A fish soup made with heaps of lobster, shrimp, mussels, and clams may be delicious. But it is not a Marseille-style bouillabaisse. it is fine to enrich your soup with some mussels, prawns, and shrimp or shrimp shells. But do not overdo it.
A bouillabaisse is generally served in two stages: first the soup, then the fish. But dissenter Andre Rieusset, owner of the Restaurant Camors in L'Estaque, makes a good case for reversing the order. Because the fish are the stars of this great dish, why risk filling up your dinner guests on soup and croutons long before the fish has made its entrance? The best solution is to serve the bouillabaisse in three stages: first croutons and soup (but not too much), then fish and potatoes, then more soup!
This recipe, like much of this book's bouillabaisse lore, was put together with the invaluable assistance of food scholar Jacques Dupuy. Part of his current research involves tracing the origins of bouillabaisse and proving his theory that they are Gaul, which is to say, French, rather than Greek. Regardless, this bouillabaisse here is unmistakably Marseillaise.
Makes 8 to 10 Servings
6 to 8 pounds fish (less if using fillets), choosing among John Dory, red mullets, red snapper (the smaller the better), porgy, pompano, turbot, striped bass, Chilean sea bass, grouper, tilapia, hake
1 tablespoon pastis (Ricard or Pernod)
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Fish Stock for Marseille-Style Bouillabaisse
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/3-inch slices
1 cup Rouille
1 baguette or country bread, cut in slices and dried in oven
2 cloves garlic, optional
1. Cut the firm-fleshed fish, notably the monkfish, into uniform pieces, removing any heads, bones, skin, and scraps as necessary. Cut the cleaned and gutted whole fish crosswise into sections about 3 inches in width.
2. Place all the fish pieces, sections, and fillets in a very large mixing bowl. Add the pastis, 2 pinches of crumbled saffron, and the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and mix well without breaking up the fish. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
3. Pour the fish stock into a large, heavybottomed stockpot and set it over high heat. Add the remaining crumbled saffron, and bring the stock to a rapid boil.
4. Add the potatoes to the pot, bring the stock back to a boil, and cook the potatoes for 5 minutes. Add the monkfish and any other firm fish, bring the stock back to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remaining fish, firmer pieces on the bottom and flakier pieces and fillets on top, and boil for 10 to 15 minutes more. Correct the seasoning, adding some cayenne, if desired. You'll know the bouillabaisse is done when the potatoes are tender. Once they are, use some of the stock and the potatoes to complete the rouille.
5. TO SERVE, Delicately remove all the fish and potatoes from the soup with a slotted spoon and set aside. Rub the croutons with the garlic cloves, arrange on a serving dish, and place on the table alongside the rouille. (The diners will dab the croutons with rouille.) Have the diners place the croutons on the bottom of their shallow bowls and ladle the soup over them.
6. Next, remove whatever bones, skin, and inedible scraps you can from the fish. Arrange all the fish and potatoes on a large serving platter. Ladle some hot soup over the fish and potatoes and serve.Made in Marseille. Copyright © by Daniel Young. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Daniel Young is a food critic by trade and a collector of kitchen, dining room, and café secrets in practice. He is the author of Made in Marseille, The Rough Guide to New York City Restaurants, and The Paris Café Cookbook and has written about French food and culture for many publications, including Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Condé Nast Traveler, the New York Times, and others. Formerly the restaurant critic for the New York Daily News, he now lives in Paris, London, and his hometown, New York.
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