I knew bouillabaisse had to be the first meal I make for the Dr. in my new apartment as soon as I saw Amanda Hesserâ€™s recap in the New York Times Magazine. But because he’s been cooking the first few days of my unpacking, I wanted to make it up to him and make an impressive version.
After work one day, I took the train from Connecticut all the way down to Grand Central Terminal where I stopped by Pescatore and splurged on fresh seafood. When I say splurged, I really mean splurged: a quarter pound of wild shrimp cost $12, two cod fillets were $13, a chunk of halibut was $16 and two more chunks of grouper were $14. I also walked by Penzeys and spent another $16 on a few strands of saffron. I have an educated guess that they were really stringed by some ladies in Spain where as the $3 jar I buy in Harlem isn’t really saffron, but safflower. A stop at Zaro’s got me my least expensive purchase of the early evening yet: $3 load of country bread.
Back at home, I was pretty impressed at what I unpacked. The cuts of fish were absolutely beautiful. I don’t spend as much money when I cook fish at home; I usually just buy a live swimming fish from Chinatown or a whole red snapper or branzino from Fairway or Whole Foods and I just broil them without any fuss. You may think it’s a waste to cook such good fish, but I actually tried this same recipe using frozen fish from Trader Joe’s and I must tell you that it really wasn’t the same. The frozen version was bland and the fish didn’t feel supple in my mouth. In fact, I had to season more to give the Trader Joe’s bouillabaisse some kind of taste. While the seafood broth carried the frozen version, I needed only a splash to bring out the natural flavors of the fresh seafood for the Pescatore version.
Now that I’ve had Pescatore seafood, I think Iâ€™ll be making more seafood dishes more often, even if it means an ache in my wallet once in a while.
1 chunk of halibut fillet
2 fillets of cod
1 chunk of grouper fillet
1/4-pound of shrimp, peeled, deveined
2 medium tomatoes, halved
1 cup of seafood broth
1/2 cup of white wine
1 small onion, thinly sliced
half a bag of baby carrots
2 pinches saffron
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon
olive oil, salt, pepper
slices of country bread, toasted
1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion, carrot, saffron, bay leaf and half of the parsley. Sauté for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic to brown.
2. Add the fish, shrimp and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and toss for 10 minutes. Add the broth and wine, bring to a rapid simmer and cook until the fish is just cooked through, less than 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, adding more saffron, lemon juice, salt and pepper as desired. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Set a slice of toast in the bottom of a bowl and ladle in soup.