Bouillabaisse Back to Basics — a modern version of a recipe by Jean-Baptiste Reboul

Jean-Baptiste Reboul wrote “la cuisinière provençale” in 1897 and it is still a standard-bearer. I recently bought fish at Port la Nouvelle with the aim of making a Bouillabaisse.

This fish soup with chunks of fish has become a famous Marseille dish of broth, lots of fish and sea food, served with a garlicky and peppery rouille and even some grated cheese.

Pasta with clams, Saint Jacob scallops and squid

Pasta with clams, scallops and squid

This weekend was the “Foire aux harengs et à la coquille de St Jacques” in the coastal town of Dieppe but we could not go to the Normandy port.

To mark this weekend of herring and scallops and encourage the hard-working small-boat fishermen there, I made a dish with scallops from my local fishmonger.

Mussels from the Mediterranean, a classic with a twist

We are moving from the Paris region to the Pyrenees where I have a larger kitchen to play with. The change in area also entails a different origin of products. Last week we were in Dieppe but while we ate well at a favourite restaurant, we did not manage to have any mussels.

So when I saw mussels on the market in Mirepoix, I bought a kilo.

A mussel may seem like another mussel but that is not true. The North Sea mussels or those from the Barfleur area are relatively small black mussels that turn yellow when cooking. These are “moules de bouchot” raised on ropes in basins in the sea.

The mussels in Mirepoix came from the lakes of Thau and Bouzigues near Sète on the Mediterranean. There they grow in suspended nets.

Read more

Beef and oyster pie with ginger

Beef and oyster pie is an old English recipe that stems from the times that oysters were so plentiful that they were cheap enough for the poor to eat. Beef was not cheap but the meat used was not a prime cut. Many recipes use a pint of British ale in the broth.

Beef and oyster sauce is a common dish in Asia, and almost always there is garlic and ginger in the preparation. That became my inspiration.

Read more

Spaghetti, clams, coriander and soy paste

I usually stick to one style or one cuisine when I make or change dishes but here the Italian and Japanese traditions where so close that I could not resist to mix and match. So instead of using white wine, olive oil and parsley for spaghetti alle vongole, I used a soybean paste, coriander and some seaweed powder. The result was excellent.

Read more

Japanese-style fish soup with cockles and prawns

From time to time, I go to a Japanese shop in the area around the rue Sainte Anne in Paris, where there are many Japanese restaurants and travel agents. I stock up on some instant soups, seaweed, sesame, yuzu and dashi – a yellow soy paste.

On the outdoor market in our village, the fishmonger had cockles, live prawns and cheek of cod. I combined this into a very nice and healthy soup.  Freshly cooked prawns have a much better taste than pre-cooked prawns.

Read more

Autumn spaghetti dish with scallops and ceps

Sometimes a dish creates itself when you walk around the market. The fishing season for scallops had opened and I wanted to do a simple spaghetti dish with it. The greengrocer’s had some of the last ceps – small brown button mushrooms from the Millevaches plateau in Corrèze, between Limoges and Ussel. I cooked the … Read more

Sole with clams and crushed potatoes

We often go to Dieppe and buy fresh fish there on the quay, walk around the market and have lunch in one of the many restaurants.

A favourite place often serves “crushed potatoes’ as a side dish – cooked potatoes crushed with a fork and some cream for smoothness.

Back home, I tried my version to accompany a dish of small sole with a clam sauce.

Read more