How to Prepare a Fish Bourride

Bourride, a traditional fish soup from France, served with toast and aioli garlic sauce.
Copyright: hansgeel

The fish bourride is a wonderful French-style hearty fish stew which is slightly thicker than your average bouillabaise. It is also a dish prepared with aïoli. This lends the stew a rich, unctuous, creamy and highly garlicky flavour. It needs plenty of thick crusty bread for the mopping up of all that cream. Originally from the Provencal region.

Serving size: 4 to 6 depending on how hungry you are.

Ingredients For The Bourride: 

  • 2 kg of white fish fillets – skinned: grey and red mullet, gurnard monkfish, sea bass. It’s possible to use a bought fish stew mix otherwise it could be pieces of fish such as cod and haddock but it loses its Mediterranean feel.
  • Any fish heads, bones and other bits from the fish except the gills.
  • 2 medium onions (red or yellow), roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed and chopped roughly into rounds
  • 2 celery stalks roughly chopped up
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, crushed and roughly chopped
  • 6 slightly waxy but not overly starchy potatoes, roughly chopped into cubes
  • ½ litre of olive oil
  • ½ litre of white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • parsley leaves and stalks
  • salt and pepper

The Aioli:

  • 3 cloves garlic, and milled into small pieces or finely chopped. 
  • 3 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper
  • 1½ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation – The Fish Stock:

  1. Chop all the vegetables up such as the leek, onions, celery, potato.
  2.  In a large heavy bottomed frying pan or skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and panfry half the vegetables but all the celery save for the potatoes for  3 minutes over high heat.
  3. Add the wine, bay leaf, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
  4. Add about 2 litres of water.
  5. Add any fish bones, heads etc. but not gills.
  6. Simmer the whole lot for at least an hour and skim off any scum at various intervals.
  7. Strain the stock and discard the vegetables and fish bits. The amount left should be between a litre and 1.5 litres 

Prepare The Aioli Sauce:

  1. Prepare the aioli sauce with the freshly crushed garlic, 3 egg yolks, plenty of salt and vinegar.
  2. Turn with the egg yolks, salt and pepper, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and olive oil. Whizz in a food processor for 2 or 3 minutes to produce a smooth emulsion. Gradually add the olive oil in small amounts to produce a rich thick mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice and any more salt for taste.

Prepare The Fish Stew Bourride:

  1. For the fish stew, heat up about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan, deep skillet or casserole pot.
  2. Add the remaining onion and leek, stir often and cook for 10 minutes to soften the vegetables.
  3. Add the white wine and cook until it is reduced by a half.
  4. Add the fish stock, the potatoes and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the fish fillets and cook gently in the pan but uncovered for a few more minutes. Try to avoid stirring as the fillets just break up.
  6. Into a small skillet bowl, add the aioli and then the stew.
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