Sea bass, red mullet and mussels with bouillabaisse sauce

This bouillabaisse recipe sees pan-fried fillets of bass and red mullet served with mussels in a rich and fragrant fish soup. With crushed new potatoes, leeks and monk's beard (a type of Mediterranean plant similar to samphire), it's a fantastic French dinner party dish. Take a look at Mark's other Provençal recipes here.

First published in 2019
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Ingredients

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Imperial

Bouillon

Garnish

Method

1
Begin by making the bouillon. Clean the fish bones and remove the gills from the heads by washing in running water until the water runs clear. Drain in a colander and give it a shake to remove any excess liquid. Pour a little olive oil in two large pans and place both over a medium heat
  • 400g of fish bones, and heads, from the sea bass and red mullet (ask your fishmonger for these)
  • olive oil
2
Place the fish bones and heads in one pan and the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in the other. Cook both for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, then add the tomato purée to the vegetables. Deglaze the pan with the fish bones in with the white wine, then transfer the contents to the pan with the vegetables
3
Add the Pernod (if using), fish stock and saffron and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer then cook over a low heat for 2 hours, skimming off any scum, fat and oil that rises to the surface
  • 1 dash of Pernod, (optional)
  • 1l fish stock
  • 1 pinch of saffron
4
While the bouillon is simmering, prepare the mussels. Heat a little oil in a saucepan and sweat the shallot until translucent. Discard any mussels with open shells and add the rest into the pan. Give the pan a shake and add the white wine and parsley stalks. Cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the mussel shells open. Tip them into a colander set over a bowl to retain the liquor and leave to cool. Pour the liquor through a fine sieve into the bouillon and reserve the mussels until ready to serve
5
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the new potatoes. Cook for 15 minutes or until tender, then drain and refresh in iced water. When cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes then season and set aside for reheating later
6
Once the bouillon has been simmering for a few hours remove from the heat and blitz with a hand blender until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan and reduce by one-third. Check for seasoning and set aside to reheat later
7
Heat a knob of butter in a pan over a medium heat and add the leeks and monk's beard. Add a pinch of salt and pour in just enough water to cover. Cook for 5 minutes until softened, then add the tomatoes and keep warm
8
Place a frying pan over a medium heat and add a splash of oil. Season the fish fillets and cook skin-side down until crisp (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, reheat the bouillon and add the mussels to warm through
9
Place a separate frying pan over a medium heat. Pour in a splash of oil and add the potatoes, crushing them lightly in your hands as you do so. Flip the fish and continue to fry until just cooked
10
To serve, place the crushed potatoes in the centre of a bowl and lay the fish carefully on top. Arrange the leeks around the fillets and top with the tomatoes. Pour the bouillon gently around the fish and garnish with the monk's beard. Alternatively, place the fish, leeks, tomatoes and monk's beard into the pan with the bouillon and bring to the table with the crushed potatoes on the side. Serve immediately

Mark Dodson speaks the language of comfort food with Shakespearean fluency, turning perfectly formed elements into down-to-earth (but heavenly) compositions.

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