March 21, 2011 | Posted in:Recipes

Last week I had the opportunity to do a cooking demonstration for the lovely folk at the Mount Ocean Sports Club. The plan was to provide some fresh ideas on seafood. So….armed with some snapper, kingfish and scallops, I walked into a room full of people who have caught, cooked and eaten these species countless times. A bit daunting – after all, no one knows fish like a fisherman, right?


Well it’s true. For those who live in the Bay, we have some of the best seafood on our doorstep. All we need to do is experiment and enjoy the wonderful healthy varieties that the ocean has to offer. The key word here being healthy. So we leave the deep fat fryer in the pantry and explore the simple flavours without all those added fats. The other thing is to try to use the whole fish to extract the maximum flavour. To that end, this dish starts with the use of the bones to make a fish stock. Don’t be daunted – it really is quick and the flavour you’ll get is worth it. Then just follow the recipe for the Bouillabaisse and enjoy.

For the purists from the South of France this dish needs very specific fish from the Mediterranean which, let’s face it, is not feasible when we have such amazing seafood right here. So we follow the basic principles and substitute our local favourites and call it a ‘Pilot Bay Bouillabaisse’ in honour of where this one was caught, cooked and eaten.

For me, the best bit of my time at Mount Ocean Sports Club was after I’d finished and everyone was tasting the fruits of our labours. There was a buzz of conversation around the room. Who’d have thought that the fish they know so well could still surprise them with crisp, clear, healthy flavour?

Bouillabaisse

Serves 6

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion and 1 red chilli, chopped

1 fennel bulb and 1 leek, trimmed and sliced

10 saffron threads

1 tablespoon boiling water

400g can peeled tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 litres fish stock (see below)

500g snapper fillets, skin on, cubed

12 raw green lip mussels, cleaned and cut into 6

12 medium raw prawns, peeled, tails intact

8 scallops in the half shell

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

Heat the oil and add the onion, fennel, leek and chilli and cook for 6 minutes until soft and golden. Meanwhile place the saffron threads in a small bowl and pour over the boiling water. Add the tomatoes, saffron (and water) and stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the snapper, mussels, prawn and scallops to the broth and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir through the parsley and serve in bowls with croutons.

Fish Stock

2kg soaked and washed fish bones

3 litres cold water

2 medium onions

2 white leeks

2 sticks celery

50g fresh herbs

12 white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil

600ml white wine

Method

Sweat the vegetables and herbs with the olive oil until soft but without colouring them. Add the fish bones and stir to coat. Add water and wine to cover and bring to the boil. Skim and simmer for 20 minutes. Allow to cool (about 3 to 4 hours), sieve and store in the fridge or freezer.

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