Basics of Bouillabaisse

Written by Provence Confidential. Posted in Food

Basics of Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is the world famous fish stew which originated in Marseilles. The name comes from the words bouillir which means to boil and baisser which means to reduce. Originally this meal was prepared by fishermen using their unsold fish. Bouillabaisse is served as two courses.

You are first served the broth which is eaten with croutons that have been rubbed with fresh garlic. The second course consists of the fish which is served with what is called la rouille. This is a delicate melange of egg yolk, olive oil, garlic and saffron.

Today the ingredients for this culinary delight are not at all random. It is important to know that there is a Charter for making bouillabaisse. Several Marseilles chefs grouped together to write down the history of the dish, a description of how it was to be served and a list of quality ingredients. This Charter was drafted in response to some negative publicity Marseilles restaurants were getting regarding the famous dish. It appears many restaurants were offering what they called bouillabaisse but by culinary standards it was not worthy of that distinction.

There are 11 restaurants in Marseilles who are chartered members. They all use excellent produce including some very noble fish which are quite expensive. Each restaurant displays the Charter for quick recognition. My personal favourite is Le Miramar on the Vieux Port.