Fish Stew: brill, eel, mackerel, red mullet, squid, mussels & scampi

Fish stew, one example of which is bouillabaisse, may be served as two separate courses for the same meal — the cooking liquid is first served as a soup with French bread and the fish is eaten as a main course. The “true” bouillabaisse is made using only Mediterranean fish; the recipe given below closely approximates using North Sea fish.

Makes: 10 portions. Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.


– 3 kg of combination of following:
— brill
— conger eel
— mackerel
— john dory
— red mullet
— whiting
— squid
– 500 grams mussels
– 250 grams scampi
– 2 dl oil
– 250 grams white of leek cut into julienne
– 200 grams sliced onions
– 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
– pinch fennel seed
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 sprig thyme
– pinch saffron
– 5 grams chopped parsley
– 500 grams tomato concassee
– ½ dl dry white wine
– seasoning


(1) Clean all the fish and cut into sections approximately 5 cm long on the bone.
(2) Scrape and wash the mussels.
(3) Heat the oil in a shallow pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Add the vegetables, herbs, garlic and fish. Cover with a lid and sweat.
(4) Add the remainder of the ingredients and allow to stew for approximately 15 minutes.
(5) When cooked rectify the seasoning and, if necessary, the balance between the fish and the liquid.
(6) Serve in a large soup tureen accompanied by slices of French bread.

Any fish that is rather delicate in texture and therefore likely to disintegrate whilst cooking with the remainder of the stew, e.g. whiting, should be added at a later stage in the cooking.

Bouillabaisse is usually served in a soup plate or tureen or in a deep-sided earthenware dish large enough for several portions.

Assessment of the completed dish

(1) The stew should be hot.
(2) The liquid should be unthickened, clear and have a slightly yellowish tint.
(3) The flavour should be a combination of fish and shellfish but should not have a predominantly fishy taste. The dish should be a blend of the flavours of all the ingredients but no one flavour should stand out.
(4) There should be more fish than liquid.
(5) The shellfish should not appear overcooked.
(6) The fish should be unbroken yet cooked.
(7) The French bread should be evenly cut into slices that are not too large.