Monday, November 30, 2009

To live by the sea

Sundays are often soup days at my place, and I had tried a delicious soup called Aziminu, the Corsican version of bouillabaisse, from the local Corsican restaurant (St. Campoloro) and I was overwhelmed by how much I loved the savory combination of seafood, tomato, and garlic galore.

Right before they served the dish, they sprinkled a whole palmful of grated pecorino cheese. If you know Italians, it's quite frowned upon to combine cheese and seafood, but the Corsicans, they did it gleefully. And it was fantastic.

When researching recipes for my own version of Aziminu, I mourned the fact that I had no tiny crabs, fish or cuttlefish (all part of the original recipe) for stock. The secret to a great bouillabaisse always begins in the stock (as Julia Child would have pointed out).

This is one of those labor-of-love dishes, but well worth it!

Serves around four?

generous glug of olive oil (5 TB?)
one large onion chopped
two large shallots chopped
six fennel stalks chopped
two celery stalks chopped
three bay leaves
1 t of red pepper flakes or a small thai dried chili
one teaspoon dried thyme or fresh thyme sprigs
one head of garlic smashed
3 T clam stock granules (alternatively 3 bottles of clam juice)
1/2 c (1 dl) of stock made from shrimp shells with head*
fish stock (you can buy this in cube form or a fond)
six cups (around 15 dl) of boiling water
1 can of your best tomatoes (we use Mutti, but I've heard San Marzano is good too)

800 g (1 1/2 pounds) boned cod
300 g peeled shrimp
optional: tiny mussels scrubbed and bearded

Vegetables for the soup:
5 TB olive oil
1 leek chopped rinsed thoroughly only the white and light green parts
1 red pepper deseeded and sliced thinly
3-4 c boiling water

one large lump of pecorino grated
rouille -- a garlicky mayonnaise with cayenne and chili pepper and anchovies

*to make shrimp stock, use the shrimp peel and pour boiling water over it and let it steep for five minutes. Use a sieve to extract the "shrimp broth".

Saute the onions and shallots in olive oil in a large stockpot for around ten minutes. Add the fennel, celery, garlic, and spices and fry until fragrant (about a minute or two). Then add the can of tomatoes, the fish fond, clam broth, and shrimp broth along with the boiling water (less if you are using clam juice or fish stock).

Though the original recipe asked for a shorter simmer, I simmed this stock for two and a half hours. Then I sieved the stock.

In soup pot saute in a generous glug of olive oil (5 Tb?) the leek and the red pepper. After a few minutes add the stock and taste it. From that add more boiling water until the flavor is correct. Bring to a boil. Add the cod in whole filets for five minutes then take the cod out of the soup and place it in the individual bowls. Do the same for the shrimp and/or mussels.

Garnish with a generous handful of pecorino and spoon of rouille.

For getting your daily garlic intake, there's no better soup!

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