Dining In 2 minutes 09 January 2018

Recipe: Emma Bengtsson’s Scandinavian Bouillabaisse

There’s no time like the present when it comes to making a flavorful soup or stew.

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Traditionally from port city of Marseille in Provence, bouillabaisse is a simple fisherman’s stew, typically using whatever local fish is on-hand.

Emma Bengtsson, executive chef of two-Michelin-starred Aquavit in New York City, brings a level of decadence to her version by way of butter-poaching seafood. New to the technique? Chef recommends poaching the seafood in a preheated oven set at precisely 176˚F, and using regular plastic wrap for good heat control.

To offset the richness of the butter, Bengtsson brightens the soup with a vibrant parsley aïoli and pickled tomatoes.

“It’s great on a cold winter day,” she adds.

Scandinavian Bouillabaisse

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit, NYC

Serves 4


For the Pickled Tomatoes:
1 ounce attika vinegar
1 ounce granulated sugar
1 ounce water
3 plum tomatoes, destemmed and scored

1. Mix the attika, sugar and water until sugar is dissolved; reserve.

2. Bring a sauce pot filled with water to a boil; blanch and peel the tomatoes and place in a bowl. Pour the attika liquid over them and reserve in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For the Base:
2 to 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
10 pounds mussels, washed and cleaned**
1 parsley stem
1 pint white wine

Heat a large pot to over medium-high heat; add the oil and shallots and sweat for 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mussels, followed by the parsley and white wine; cover the pot with a lid and let cook for 3 minutes or until all the mussels are open. (Be sure to throw out any mussels that haven’t open.) Transfer the mussels to a bowl and reserve in the refrigerator. Strain the stock through a fine-mesh chinois. (This is the base for the sauce.)

**When washing and cleaning the mussels, be sure to discard any cracked or open mussels.

For the Sauce:
1 pint reserved mussel stock from Base
1/4 pint whole milk
1/4 pint cream
Sparkling wine, to taste
Lemon juice, to taste
Kosher salt

Add all the ingredients to a sauce pot and bring to a boil; blend with an immersion blender and season to taste.

For the Parsley Aïoli:
4 ounces parsley leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 ounce garlic
1 pint canola oil
2 eggs
Kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground
lemon juice, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add the parsley leaves and cook for about 1 minute. Remove from the water and shock in an ice bath; drain and dry with paper towels.

2. In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil and garlic and cook until golden brown; remove from the pan and smash into a paste.

3. Blend the blanched parsley with the canola oil and garlic until smooth; strain through a chinoise.

4. In the same blender, add the eggs and blend on medium speed; carefully, while the motor is running, pour in the parsley oil and blend until it is the thickness of a mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Add lemon to taste just before serving.)

Assembly for 4 Servings:

1 Tablespoon Parsley Aïoli
3 reserved Pickled Tomatoes, quartered
4 ounces bass, seared and portioned
4 scallops, seared
4 ounces butter-poached salmon, portioned
4 butter-poached shrimp
4 ounces butter-poached cod, portioned
24 mussels, rinsed and cleaned
4 ounces reserved Sauce

Place a spoonful of Parsley Aïoli in the bottom of 4 large bowls, and then place 3 Pickled Tomato wedges in each. Add 1 ounce bass, 1 scallop, 1 ounce salmon, 1 shrimp, 1 ounce cod and 6 mussels to each plate. Top with some of the extra sauce. Serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of Aquavit.

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