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 BouillabaisseRecipe courtesy of Executive Chef Emma Bengtsson, Aquavit, NYC
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
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
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.