A fishy business

A Fishy Business

Bouillabaisse serves 4 – 6

This French seafood soup derives its name from the French bouiller (to boil) and baisse (waste) as traditionally, only the catch fishermen couldn’t sell was used.

Today the dish comprises different types of fish with prawns, crabs, squid, octopus and mussels. The rouille is a traditional accompaniment. Try a blob on baguette slices floating on the soup, or serve it on the side.


  • 2 tblsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g roma tomatoes, blanched and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 50ml pernod or ouzo
  • 1kg mixed white fish, preferably smaller cutlets
  • 500g fish bones and heads
  • 4 medium blue swimmer crabs, cleaned and quartered, keeping the legs for the broth
  • 12 green king prawns, peeled and de-veined, keeping the shells and heads for the broth
  • 500g large black mussels
  • 1 tblsp chopped lemon thyme
  • 2 tblsp chopped basil


  • 3 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large head of garlic, chopped
  • 6 tblsp olive oil
  • Prawn shells and crab legs
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
  • 2 stems celery, coarsely chopped
  • 750g ripe roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 4 strips of dried orange peel
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 litres water


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 150ml light olive oil
  • 2 tsp paprika powder
  • Pinch of chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 baguette cut into 1.5cm slices
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tblsp chopped garlic


To make broth, fry onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add prawn shells and crab legs and cook for another couple of minutes. Add remaining ingredients and cook gently for 30 minutes. Strain and discard solids.
For rouille, beat egg yolks lightly then, while beating, drizzle in some of the light olive oil until mixture binds and thickens. Add paprika, chilli, mustard and juice. Beat in remaining light olive oil until you have a thick mayonnaise. Baste bread with extra virgin olive oil and garlic, then toast.
In a pan, saute garlic in oil, add tomatoes, cook for one minute. Add broth, saffron and pernod, and bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes and season. Stirring gently, add fish and bones, then crab, prawns and mussels. To serve, dish out seafood into bowls, then ladle broth over them and sprinkle with herbs. Serve baguette slices and rouille on the side.


  • Article first published in the Sunday Star Telegraph, 14 January 2001.  To view or download PDF of this feature CLICK THIS LINK —> A fishy business