Bouillabaisse Is a Classic Seafood Stew

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  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins
  • Cook: 60 mins
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings

This classic Marseilles seafood stew recipe uses a variety of fish and shellfish, including crab, squid, mussels, and lobster. It is a true seafood lover's delight and while it's labor-intensive, it's worth the trouble. The seafood bones, heads, and shells make the rich bouillon base of the chunky soup. You will need a large stockpot for this recipe.


  • 2 pounds rockfish (filleted, cut into large chunks, bones reserved)
  • 1 pound John Dory (filleted, cut into large chunks, bones reserved)
  • 2 pounds rouget (or red snapper, cut into large chunks, filleted, bones reserved)
  • 1 pound striped bass (filleted, cut into large chunks, bones reserved)
  • 2 pounds grouper (filleted, cut into large chunks, bones reserved)
  • 6 blue crabs (broken into small pieces)
  • 2 lobsters (1 1/2 pounds; head separated and crushed)
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion (diced)
  • 2 celery stalks (diced)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (diced)
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons pastis (licorice-flavored French liqueur)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 1 red chili pepper (dried)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 5 parsley stems
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 16 small squid
  • 1 cup mussels
  • 12 to 16 baby red potatoes (steamed)
  • 1 toasted baguette

Steps to Make It

Prepare the Bouillon

  1. In a large, hot stockpot roast the bones of the rockfish, John Dory, rouget, striped bass, grouper, crab and the lobster heads in the olive oil.

  2. Once the bones are opaque, add the onion, celery, carrot, fennel, and garlic.

  3. Simmer for 3 minutes, stirring often.

  4. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft.

  5. Stir in the tomato paste and coat all of the vegetables and bones.

  6. Add the pastis and cook until dry.

  7. Add the white wine and reduce by half.

  8. Add the peppercorns, chili pepper, bay leaf, thyme, saffron, and parsley stems, and then add enough water just to cover.

  9. Cook until the liquid has reduced by a third. Stir frequently so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

  10. In another large pot run all of the contents of the bouillon through a medium-holed food mill and discard solids. Season the resulting bouillon with salt and pepper.

Make the Bouillabaisse

  1. Bring the bouillon to a simmer and add the fish individually based on its thickness (thickest chunks first). Cut the lobster tail through the shell into large pieces. Add the lobster, squid, and mussels to the bouillon.

  2. Cook until the mussels open. Bring the pot to the table and ladle into large bowls.

  3. Serve with steamed whole baby red potatoes tossed with olive oil and salt and toasted baguette on the side to sop up the juices.