I experienced my first real Atlantic gale in 1982. Again we were delivering the sixty foot Jongert Ketch "La Paloma" for the Spanish owner. This time he wanted it moved from Palma de Mallorca to St. Martin in the Caribbean. Like last time, I got a quick phone call from Dad and also like last time, my husband Dub knew all about it in advance. And like the last time, I was getting restless. I couldn’t get on that plane to Spain fast enough. I loved my man, my kids, my house, my life—but I loved the sea, too, and if she only took me away from my family a couple months or so every other year, than so be it. Although once that storm hit, I kind of wished that I was back home in Santa Barbara, snuggled up by a nice cozy warm fire.
“Save the pot!” I remember my father shouting, as it looked like it was going to fly off the gimbaled stove.
I got there in time, steadied it. “God forbid we should lose the bouillabaisse.”
“It’s only two days old,” Dad said.
“Yuck,” I said.
“Just getting good,” Mama said and that was rare, because from past experience I knew that she thought Dad’s California version of Bouillabaisse was rather bland.
Unlike with their Chili on the eastern crossings, where they kept throwing stuff in the pot, on their western crossings they would cook up a pot of Bouillabaisse, eat the fish out of it and restock the broth with what they caught along the way.
I’m sure that if Dad could have had his wish, they would have done chili both coming and going, but wishes are like kisses, you don’t always get as many as you want, especially my dad, he only got his wish, food wise, half the time. If Mama and Dad were sailing west, he ate bouillabaisse, but Dad wasn’t the kind of man to give in totally, if he had to have fish soup, then he’d have it his way, which Mama let him get away with, every now and then.
I said last Guide that my dad was a two recipe man, well this is his other one.
Captain Katie’s Dad’s Bouillabaisse 1 pound tuna 1 pound sword fish 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and shelled 1 sliced onion 1 sliced carrot 1 stalk chopped celery 1 bay leaf salt and pepper to taste 6 teaspoons olive oil 2 cloves finely chopped garlic 2 small leeks, trimmed and finely chopped 4 tomatoes, skinned and chopped 3 strips orange peel good pinch saffron threads 1 sprig fresh thyme
Clean and prepare fish, removing the skin and bones. Shell the shrimp. Put fish trimmings and bones in a large saucepan with the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Pour in 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper, remove any scum which rises to the surface, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, discarding bones and vegetables.
Heat oil in pan, add garlic and leeks and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, then pour in stock and bring to a boil. Stir in orange peel, saffron and thyme. When soup is boiling, reduce heat and add white fish and simmer for 8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6
Comments: Okay, so it’s not really bouillabaisse, more like fish soup, but bouillabaisse is what my dad calls it.
Unlike Dad’s recipe, Mama’s is the real thing and not to be undertaken lightly. Doing her Bouillabaisse is a major production, but worth it.
Captain Katie’s Mama’s Bouillabaisse 1 pound red snapper 1 pound cod tail 1 pound bass (striped or sea bass) 2 lobster tails 3/4 pound deveined shrimp 1 1/2 pounds mussels, cleaned but still in shells 1 pound eel 1 1/2 pounds white-meated fish fillets 1/2 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons chopped onion 3 tablespoons tomato paste 2 cloves crushed garlic 1 bay leaf 1 pinch thyme 1 pinch dried fennel seed 1 pinch saffron 1 piece dried orange rind 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 15 slices French bread, dried in oven 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Cut fish and lobster into pieces 1 1/2-inch thick. Reserve fish fillets. In kettle or large, heavy saucepan, combine oil, onions, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, fennel, saffron, orange rind, shellfish, and fish (without fillets), salt, pepper, and 6 cups of boiling water. Bring to boil and continue boiling, over brisk flame, for 10 minutes. Add fish fillets and continue boiling for 5 minutes longer. Remove all fish and shellfish to heated serving dish and keep warm. Serves way more than six.
Arrange slices of bread in bottom of soup tureen. Pour cooking liquid over bread. Sprinkle both dishes with parsley. Serve hot. Serve both dishes together. For eating: Serve from both dishes into the same soup plate.
If some of the fish listed is not available, replace it by some similar variety.
Comments: Bouillabaisse is made in France with Mediterranean fish, which is, of course, not to be found in the United States. The recipe lists what Mama thinks is the equivalent American fish. Even in France there is no set list of fish—variety of flavors and textures is more important than any definite kind.
Contrary to "La Marseillaise" (which did not originate in Marseille but in Strasbourg), "la bouillabaisse" is a native of Marseille and the favorite child of the whole Cote d'Azur. It was, and has remained, a fisherman's meal. It is delectable enough to have won the recognition of gourmets everywhere. Try it sometime at the seaside or in your cockpit and you will get the full flavor of this marvelous dish.
Next Guide it’s all about seafood when I talk about “Two Ways to Sizzle with Shrimp.” Till then, Happy sails to you and healthy eating too.