[Smashy the Hammer] [An Aspiring Luddite]
I carry no phone
An aspiring Luddite
In a wired world.
[Jeff Berry]
Jeff Berry is an early adopter of the Internet and the Web, a late adopter of Twitter, and declines to adopt Facebook. With the death of Google+, he's experimenting with federated platforms. He admins a medievalist Mastodon instance, and can found on the PlusPora diaspora pod. He hates cell-phones.

Cheaty Bouillabaisse
8 November 2016
[Fish Soup]

There is a quintessentially British product which is usually available at fishmongers and market fish-counters called 'fish pie mix.' It consists, in the main, of trimmings and bits and bobs of fish that have been removed from the filets which are so lovingly presented to the customer's eye. The pieces are suitable, as the name implies, for fish pie, and the merchants knock a couple of quid off the price for the aesthetic failings of the presentation. Over the years, I've made quite a few fish pies using either fish pie mix or fish that I had to cut up myself.

Surely, I though to myself at several points, there must be something else I could do with fish pie mix. Since it's already cut into odd-shaped bits, soup came to mind, and when fish soup comes to mind, bouillabaisse comes to my mind. This recipe is most emphatically not bouillabaisse, no matter what name I gave the recipe. What this recipe shares with the original is a sense that using up the odds and ends of what might be considered less desirable fish or parts of fish is a good thing. As with many dishes that had their origins in less than affluent surroundings, done properly, it yields fantastic results.

I had other motives, not so much ulterior as exterior, for wanting to try something like this. Primus, our veg box had delivered into my hands a fennel bulb, and I wanted to try something new with that. Secondus, I had saffron.

Saffron has, for me, long been a bit of a puzzle. It's very expensive, for one thing, and in many recipes its primary purpose seems to be for the colour it adds more than any flavour it might contribute. So I decided to go for broke. I made a relatively small pot of this soup using a generous pinch of saffron, and the result was splendid. On a subsequent occasion, we had this dish but were out of saffron, and it was nowhere near as good. Now I have finally found a good use for saffron, which is a bit unfortunate since, as noted, it's really expensive. For this dish, however, it's worth it, so don't skimp. [Lots of pictures]

Cheaty Bouillabaisse

Cut the onion small while heating the olive oil. Put the onion in to sweat with a bit of salt while cutting the fennel small. Add the fennel and continue to sweat the vegetables down. A note about the salt - don't be too aggressive, you can always add more at table. Cut the tomatoes into smallish chunks.

When the vegetables are starting to soften, add the saffron and the tomatoes. I don't want the tomatoes to disintegrate, which is why I add them at this late stage. If you'd rather have them melt into the general broth, by all means add them earlier. Add the fish, and enough boiling water to cover everything. Stir, and then simmer until the fish is cooked through and just starting to flake. If your fish is in large chunks, make it into smaller chunks with your stirring spoon. Serve.

This makes about three servings, or two hefty, meal-sized portions. We usually call it the main course when we have it. If you are so inclined, toast and a garlic mayonnaise are a fine accompaniment. I should give you my recipe for the mayo, but although it worked beautifully the first time I made it, I've never made it successfully again. Emulsification is hard. Maybe in another article, another day ...


© 2016 Jeff Berry
The Aspiring Luddite