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The Perfect Bouillabaisse

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This recipe is fantastic, a combination of two or three French and Spanish recipes that more than fed two hungry birthday boys and their friends and loved ones. The Pernod is very important. This recipe serves eight and needs 45 minutes preparation and cooking time.


  • 3oz of olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • Whites of two leeks, roughly chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 1 Fennel bulb, finely sliced
  • 10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 x 2" pieces of orange peel, finely chopped
  • 2lbs fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • Half a small red chilli, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 level teaspoon of saffron
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 pints water
  • 7lbs firm white fish mixture
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod or Ricard (not optional)
  • 1 1/2 lb shellfish (mussels, lobster, prawns etc - preferably raw)
  • 1fl oz extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped curly parsley
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat some olive oil (not the extra virgin) in a wok or largest pan you can find. Add onions, leeks, celery, fennel and garlic. Cook until soft.

  2. Season, add orange peel, tomatoes, chilli, saffron, thyme and water. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

  3. Add the fish, then mussels and remaining herbs. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add remaining shellfish and simmer for a further minute.

  4. Strain all the soup into another pan leaving fish/ shellfish in the big pot or wok to keep warm.

  5. Add extra virgin olive oil and Pernod (wa-hey!) to soup and boil rapidly to reduce by a third.

  6. Check seasoning, adding cayenne if using.

  7. Add to fish, mix well and scatter with chopped curly parsley Serve with salad, bread and butter, and finger bowls with loads of serviettes, and a debris bowl for empty shells.

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