June 28, 2013

Ile de Ré Soup and Saffron Remoulade

When I, Hannah, was ten years old my family lived in France for a year, just outside of Paris. At the young age I was eating escargots, trotters, pâtés, tripe, confits and a plethora of classically French food (and wine). In one of our final weekend trips before returning to the USA, we visited Ile de Ré. I distinctly recall eating a fish stew that was the grandfather of all fish stews. All forms of sealife were included, crustaceans, invertebrates, arctinopterygii, molluscs, and. Saffron. The evening of the fish potjie, I tasted that taste.

Some people say smell is one of the most memorable senses, the way you can remember a scent from years ago, the smell of your grandmother's sweaters, the smell of your primary school, a lover. It can all come back to you with one whiff, all the emotions involved. This was the case for me and this fish. The taste and smell of the stew brought me back to fourteen years ago...

Ile de Ré Fish Soup and Saffron Remoulade

1 qt. Fish Stock* pushed through a fine mesh sieve
1 qt. of puréed vegetables**
1 onion, diced
2 tomatos, diced
2 T. tomato paste

1 baguette/pão

1 T mayonnaise (Helman's is the best)
1 T Olive oil
1 pinch of saffron
1 t. lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, minced

Start by sautéing the onions in a saucepan with a small amount of vegetable oil. Once they are translucent, add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook until the tomatoes are soft, and then a bit more. Let cool.

Combine the Fish Stock, and puréed vegetables into a large saucepan over low heat.

Meanwhile transfer your onions and tomatoes into a blender, (only because we've only got one pan). Once this cools sufficiently, as in, once the heat doesn't cause your blender to explode onto the ceiling, then blend and add to the stock and veggies.

In another pan heat up the round slices of bread and toast with some olive drizzled on top until golden brown and crispy.

In a spice grinder, as if make aïoli, combine the mayonnaise, and olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. then slowly stir in the fragil flowers of saffron and water until mixed.

Once the Soup is sufficiently warm, place the toasts in a deep soup bowl and top with a generous dollop of the remoulade. Around the toast pour the soup until the toast just floats in the dish. Sprinkle with course sea salt and a crack of fresh ground pepper.


*Fish Stock
1 fish carcass, hacked into filet sized pieces
1 peeled carrot, chopped into larger bits
1 onion, quartered so as to stay together
2 cloves of garlic, loosely chopped
3 bay leaves
1 star of anise
1 t. celery seeds
1 t. pepper corns
1 dried peri-peri chilled with seeds

Place the fish carcass, into a large pot and cover with water, even one inch above. Turn the heat on low as you empty in all the other ingredients. Let simmer with lid off for about 1 hour, any leftover meat should fall easily off the bones of the fish.

From here I set aside about 1 quart of stock to freeze for later use, and the rest I pushed through a fine mesh sieve (if I'd had a food mill I'd have used that).

**Puréed vegetables: These were veggies from the fish potjie, however any soft pumpkin, potato, peppers, carrots, eggplant/aubergines, and onions can work just fine. I put the soft veggies into a blender and blended until smooth.

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