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Serves 8

© by Andrea Ratuski

If you are making bouillabaisse in or near Marseille you will readily find small rockfish for the broth and several “noble” fish for the service. Elsewhere, it is possible to make a delicious fish stew using whatever fish is local. In Marseille it would be presented in two services, first the broth, then the fish, but it is practical to present it in one service, the fish in the aromatic broth with potato, served with garlicky toasts spread with a spicy rouille sauce. The dish can be made in stages over two days to ease preparation. While not traditional, the addition of some seafood would make the dish more festive.



Fish Broth

  • Olive Oil 4 Tbs
  • Onion 1 medium, chopped
  • Leek 1, trimmed, cleaned and chopped
  • Fennel 1 bulb, chopped
  • Garlic 5 cloves, smashed, plus more for rubbing the toasts
  • Fennel Seeds 2 tsp
  • Diced Tomatoes 1 x 398 ml can (1-1/2 cups)
  • Tomato Paste 2 Tbs
  • Saffron a generous pinch
  • Orange Peel 1 wide strip
  • Cayenne or Piment d’Espelette a pinch
  • Salt 1 Tbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • Fish Heads and Bones 800 g
  • Water 8 cups


  • Potatoes 750 g, peeled and sliced
  • Firm-Fleshed Fish (such as halibut, cod, haddock) 800 g, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Flaky Fish (such as red snapper, flounder, branzino, tilapia)  800 g, cut into bite-size pieces
  • Pastis ¼ cup
  • Baguette 1, sliced into thin rounds
  • Olive Oil for brushing
  • Garlic Cloves for rubbing

Sauce Rouille

  • Garlic 4 juicy cloves, minced
  • Egg Yolks 2
  • Salt ¼ tsp
  • Dijon Mustard ½ tsp
  • Lemon Juice 2 tsp
  • Cayenne ¼ tsp, or to taste
  • Olive Oil 1 cup or more
  • Tomato Paste 1-2 Tbs, for colour

Cook It

Fish Broth

  1. In a large pot, sauté the onion, leek, fennel, fennel seeds and garlic in olive oil. Add the canned tomato, tomato paste, orange peel, crumbled saffron, cayenne, salt and pepper, stirring. Add the fish bones and water (the water should cover the fish). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a medium, cook for 45 minutes.
  2. Remove the fish heads, then pass the mixture through a food mill fitted with a medium disc, in batches, scraping the bottom as you go. Alternatively, crush the mixture, then pass through a fine sieve into a large bowl.


  1. Steam the potatoes until just tender, set aside.
  2. Return the fish broth to the pot and bring it to a boil. Add the pastis. Add each fish in order, dense to flaky, simmer until just cooked, about 5–10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet, brushing lightly with olive oil. Bake or broil until slightly crisp and golden. While still warm, rub each slice with a cut clove of garlic.
  4. Serve a portion of potato and fish into each bowl, top with a serving of broth. At the table, offer toasts with sauce rouille to float in the soup.

Sauce Rouille

  1. Blend the garlic, egg yolks, salt, mustard, cayenne and lemon juice in a food processor. Dribble in some olive oil, drop by drop. Then begin drizzling the rest of the oil in a thin stream. When nearly finished, add the tomato paste to turn the mixture rusty-coloured, or rouille, then continue adding oil until it is the consistency of mayonnaise, or to your liking.