Pining for some sun? Console yourself with this Seafood bouillabaisse with saffron aioli and Parmesan crisps; a great light supper that, even though won’t give you a tan, will conjure up memories of warm sunny holidays on the med. Wherever you go along the French coast you will find a version of classic fish soup/stew. Here we’ve teamed it with easy-peasy, melt-in-the-mouth Parmesan crisps. You can vary the types of fish and shell fish but try and keep the quantities roughly the same. Ask your fishmonger for farmed mussels and clams as these tend to be less dirty than wild shellfish and are easier to prepare and they are also sustainably farmed and kinder on the environment.
Ingredients (Serves 8):
- 400 g black mussels, scrubbed, bearded
- 400 g vongole (small clams) soaked in cold water for 15 minutes
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- Fish stock
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, thinly sliced
- 1 leek, white part only, trimmed, halved, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tbs chopped fresh thyme
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- a small strip fresh orange rind
- 800 g can chopped tomatoes
- 350 g white fish, roughly chopped (use any white fish you like)
- 12 large fresh prawns, peeled
- 2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley
For the saffron aioli:
- A large pinch saffron
- 150 good quality store-bought aioli
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
For the parmesan crisps:
- 80 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 200°c/fan-forced 180°c. Wash the mussels and clams in running water and shake off the excess. Place mussels in a large saucepan, cover and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes shaking pan several times, until the mussels have just opened (discard any that remain closed). Strain liquid into a bowl and reserve. Repeat the process with the clams, cooking for 3 minutes. Measure the reserved stock and make up to 750 ml by adding fish stock or water if necessary.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the fennel, leek, garlic, thyme and a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally over a medium heat for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften. Add the bay leaves, orange rind, tomatoes and reserved stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove lid and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the sauce is reduced slightly
Stir in the fish and prawns and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes until cooked. Add the mussels, clams and parsley to the sauce and warm through for 1 minute. Divide the soup among serving bowls and serve topped with the aioli and Parmesan crisps.
To make the aioli and Parmesan crisps. Place the saffron in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of boiling water and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir into the aioli with the paprika.
To make the Parmesan crisps. Place 8 heaped tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, spaced well apart, on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Flatten slightly and bake for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Leave to cool on the tray.