This delicious seafood stew hails from the French port city of Marseilles and represents the best of Provençal cooking: A mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery is sautéed in butter and oil, savory aromatics are added to the base along with white wine, stock and saffron and then a variety of fresh fish is gently poached to perfection.  This is not a cheap dish per se, but given all that goes into it it’s not horrendously expensive either.  The total ingredients should cost less than $40 and the dish easily serves 4-6.

Time:  60 – 90 minutes
Level: Easy
Cost: $10/plate
Serves: 4-6


  1. 2 TBSP olive oil
  2. 2 TBSP butter
  3. 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  4. 4 celery stocks, diced
  5. 6-8 large(ish) carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 – 1.5 inch pieces
  6. Approximately 1lb yellow or red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  7. 2 oz canned anchovie filets, drained
  8. 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  9. 3-4 Roma tomatoes, diced and seeds removed if necessary (some tomatoes are juicer than others)
  10. 1 14oz can chicken or seafood stock (I use chicken stock, this dish is seafoody enough for me already, but do what you want)
  11. 1 package unflavored powdered gelatin (optional, to be added to stock)
  12. 1.5 cups dry white wine (about half a bottle, cheap is fine as long as you would drink it)
  13. Juice of 2 lemons
  14. 3 orange peel strips, 3-4 inches long, orange parts only (use vegetable peeler)
  15. 3 bay leaves
  16. Several sprigs fresh thyme
  17. .02oz, about 1/2 a gram, saffron threads (Trader Joe’s sells just this amount for $5.99)
  18. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  19. 1/2 teaspoon powdered oregano (optional)
  20. 2lbs firm fresh fish of at least two types (salmon, red snapper, talapia, cod and tuna are all good choices), cut into chunks
  21. 1lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined.

Prep and Mis-En-Place

  1. Dice onion, celery and carrots and combine in a medium sized bowl (this is your mirepoix)
  2. Slice potatoes into cubes that are approximately 1 inch in diameter
  3. Dice (and de-seed, if necessary) Roma tomatoes and place in a medium bowl
  4.  Mince garlic, and then, using a mortar and pestle or bowl and spoon, smush (that’s the technical term) garlic and anchovie filets together to form a paste
  5. Locate white wine and and chicken stock
    • Pro Tip:  I also add one package of unflavored powdered gelatin to my stock at this time; it makes for a richer, thicker sauce – I’ll explain why in another post
    • Pro Tip:  Since you’re going to dump the stock and wine into the pan at the same time, when it comes time to cook, dump the stock first and then use the empty can to measure out the wine.  For now, just make sure you’ve got the wine withing arm’s reach.
  6. Locate lemons and halve
  7. Tie orange peel strips, bay leaves and fresh thyme together using cooking twine to make a sachet
    • Pro Tip:  If you don’t have fresh thyme, use dried and tie the items up in a coffee filter or piece of cheese cloth.  You want the flavor of these items in your stew, but you don’t want them in your stew.
  8. Locate saffron, cayenne and oregano
  9. Prep fish:  Chunk firm fish into cubes and pieces; peel and devein shrimp


In a large sauté pan, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat.  Add celery, onion and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally, until carrots are relatively soft and just barely beginning to brown around the edges, 10 minutes.

Add garlic and anchovie paste and stir to combine.  Sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add tomatoes and continue to cook gently.  Reduce heat if things are beginning to brown too much.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated, approximately 5 more minutes.

Add stock, wine and lemon juice and stir.  Add sachet (the orange peel/bay leave/thyme thing), oregano (if using) and saffron to the pan and stir to incorporate.  Add potatoes.  Increase heat and bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Continue to cook until potatoes are soft, 20 – 30 minutes and liquid has reduce by 1/3 – 1/2.

Once potatoes are soft, reduce heat to a bare simmer, add fish to the pan and cover.  Allow fish to cook for 5 minutes, then add the shrimp and cover again, cooking for five minutes more or until shrimp are no longer translucent.  Off the heat and allow to rest, covered, 5 minutes more.

Serve with crusty french bread and a nice wine.


3 thoughts on “Bouillabaisse

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