Monday, 12 March 2012


This was a crazy involved and complicated recipe, but omigod delicious!

Especially the rouille. Which requires harissa, so let's start there:

To make harissa, get about 115g of dried chillies. This is more than you think it is: dried chillies are light. Soak them in boiling water for half an hour or so. Then fish them out, but don't throw away the water. The recipe says destem and deseed them, but I didn't bother. I just chopped them up and threw them in the blender. But if you want to do it the proper way, go ahead. I'll wait.

Done? Cool.

Throw into a food processor, along with a clove (or two or three) of garlic, chopped.

Toast up a tablespoon of coriander seeds, half a tablespoon of caraway seeds and a tablespoon of black peppercorns. Then grind them up and throw them in the food processor too. along with half a tablespoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Whirrrrrr it till it becomes a paste. Add some of the chilli water if it's too thick.

Now you have harissa! Well done. It's really good on cheese sandwiches. I tell you this, because you will have leftovers!

Right, now make the rouille.

Pour two tablespoons of boiling water over 10 saffron threads. Leave for 15 minutes. Beat two egg yolks, and slowly dribble part of 300ml of sunflower oil in until it binds. When it starts to thicken, add a tablespoon of dijon mustard and the juice of a lemon. Mix what's left of the sunflower oil with 300ml of olive oil. and add it slowly and steadily while blending until you have a good thick mayonnaise. Add the saffron strands and its water, and as much harissa as you wish (depending on how hot you want it).

This stuff is so good. Seriously. NOM.

Next bit: make some crouts.

Cut a bagette into 1 cm slices brush with olive oil, and bake in an oven. Check them often, because they burn quickly!!

Do some prep:

Peel some prawns, bash up a crab. Peel and fillet some white fish (or just deskin some fillets). Peel and chop some onion and garlic, dice up a fennel head, Trim and chop celery and leek. Peel and chop some carrots, and dice up some peeled potatoes. Chop up some parsley.

Got any room on your kitchen surfaces? Well done! I hadn't, at this point.

Now, finally, we get to the soup part!

In a very large saucepan, saute the onions and garlic. Add the bashed up hen crab, and any fishie bits you have leftover - prawn shells, crab shells, fish skin, the works. Throw it all in. Add all the vegetables, and a can of tomato. Also some thyme, parsley, bay leaves and orange peel (I used grated zest). Pour in half a bottle of dry white wine. Yes, really. And 1.5 litres of boiling water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for half an hour.

Drain through a sieve, leaving all those veggies and fishy bits behind. You only want the liquid. Don't be afraid to squeeze the liquid out of the bits. Taste and season.

This stock is totally amazing, though it hurt my heart to throw out all those veggies. But I said I'd follow the recipe, so I did.

Anyway. Finally, cut up some tomatoes and throw them in the broth. Add 16 saffron strands, and a tablespoon of some sort of anise alcohol. The recipe says Pernod, Pastis or Arak, but we just soaked some star anise in vodka for a day or two, and that worked just fine.

Add fish fillets and prawns. Cook just long enough for them to be done.

Still with me? We're nearly there.

To serve:

Ladle the broth and fish into bowls. Scatter on some parsley. Spoon the rouille onto the crouts and float them on the broth. Add some grated gruyere, and be amazed.

This recipe is really high maintenance. It was a MISSION to make.

But wow. Totally frikkin' amazing. SO tasty. NOM.

(We really enjoyed this. ;)

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