|Bouillabaisse (zuppa di pesce)
& Seafood Hot Pot for one
|CLAMS, MUSSELS AND SHRIMP
When you purchase fresh Mussels and Clams, make SURE that their shells are all
the way closed. This means that they are still alive. Those that are slightly opened
are dieing. Of course you can tap them and see if they close, but it's a good all
around point to just buy those that are firmly closed. If you are not going to cook
with them the day you buy them, then make SURE to Rinse ALL, and store
preferably in a metal bowl with ice and water for no more than 2 days, changing the
water and ice about twice a day.
Beard the Mussels-- if they are wild caught they will have a type of "hair" on the
outside of the shell. You need to use a short knife and pull both ways to get rid of
If the Mussels are farm raised then there will be no beard.
I only purchase FRESH Mussels. I haven't been too crazy with the frozen ones.
CLAMS: I like the very small VONGOLE clams as I think that they retain a lot more
flavor than the larger ones and are "easier" to chew. They are not always available,
so any size will do, but in my book, the smaller the better.
SHRIMP: You can buy these cooked and frozen, medium to large. They will already
be peeled and deveined. For this recipe, it is ok to put the frozen shrimps into the
If you buy raw shrimp, then remove shells, slice down the middle of the curved side
of shrimp and remove the vein. Rinse. Boil or microwave with a bit of water to
partially cook (almost white).
NOTES ON OTHER SEAFOOD:
You can add Talapia, Flounder, Dover Sole, Red Snapper, Salmon (deboned) or
Orange Roughy fillets.
Generally speaking, when I do this, I partially bake. Most of the fillets can be
baked with a bit of Butter and Olive Oil, some Lemon juice at 350*F for 5-10 min (or
1/2 the time required according to pkg directions), as it will continue to cook when
you put them into the soup.
With the exception of Salmon (which will be pink when fully cooked--about 15 min)
all the other fillets will be a bright white when fully cooked, about 12 min.
So keep your eye on it, you don't want to fully or over cook your fillets. As stated
here, add the fish with its sauce & juices into the soup.
I feel it is somewhat important to get shell fish into this soup.
The fillets, shucked or canned Oysters and canned Clams are basically fillers, and
tasty, but you really get the flavor of Seafood if you also use FRESH shell fish
(Mussels, Clams, Lobster Tails and/or Crab).
REGARDING CRAB LEGS: You'll want to get 5 or 4 UP legs, the number denotes
how many "fingers" are per Crab section. Obviously the lower the number the
thicker the leg. The higher the number, the thinner the leg. Snow Crab is thinner
and more flakier than Alaskan King Crab. Snow Crab is also less expensive.
|SEAFOOD HOT POT FOR ONE
A nice variation of this is to just take a small handful of Mussels
About a Cup Broth (see above) along with some water to thin out
One Crab Leg Cluster
One Small Lobster tail (cleaned as described above BUT not baked)
dash of Beer (optional)
A few small Red Potatoes
A few small Cob Corn Niblets (defrosted)
Salt, Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes
A few Tablespoons Olive Oil
Parsley or Cilantro diced up
To the almost boiling broth add the dash of Beer, Crab Leg, cleaned
Lobster Tail, Potatoes and Corn Niblets. On medium flame (below
boiling) simmer slightly covered 20 min until Potatoes are done.
In the meantime, saute the Mussels & Clams in Olive Oil with small
pinches of Salt, Pepper & Red Pepper flakes.. When they JUST begin to
open, toss into Seafood broth. If you have precooked frozen Shrimp,
rinse and remove tails and toss into broth now. If they are uncooked,
devein (see Shrimp notes above) and saute in the Olive Oil mixture until
done, turning over constantly (only a couple of minutes until they are
Top Broth mixture with Parsley or Cilantro.
Optional: squeeze in just a bit of Lime Juice.
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Try to use homemade seafood broth whenever possible. If not, then vegetable broth
is the next best thing.
Whenever I eat out or serve at home Lobster and/or Crab, I save all the shells, and
put them in a heavy duty zip lock freezer bag and freeze them for later.
Then when I know I will be making Bouillabaisse, I just defrost them.
I then wrap them up in Cheese cloth, and put them in a large pot just covering it with
water (about 4 inches.)
(A few onions, carrots and celery are optional, but not important.)
If you have managed to save the ROE, which is the red egg sack from female
lobsters, you can put this in your broth as well. Think of this as a Seafood Boullion
cube. (you can freeze this, then just plop into the broth)
I bring it to a boil, and then simmer for a good hour or two. Discard shells in
This gives you a GREAT seafood broth.
You can skip this step, and just use prepackaged Seafood Broth, or Chicken or
Vegetable Broth if you prefer.
For this recipe you'll need at least 2 Cups of Broth.
If you are making the seafood broth and have any left overs, you can freeze that as
well for future use.
1 very small Fennel bulb (aka Anise), a few slices diced up fine
1 small Leek, a few slices diced up fine
1 Scallot diced (optional)
1 very small Red Onion diced
A few cloves of Garlic, diced
About 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1/2 can of Beer (optional)
About 1/2 Cup of DRY White Wine such as (Chardonnay)
At least 2 cups of Tomato Puree (per person)
1 pinch of Saffron (optional)
1 small can of minced Clams (with the juice)
1/2 pint shucked or small can of Oysters (with the juice)
Generous pinches of Salt and Pepper
1 shot of Vodka
about 1/2 stick of Butter
2 Cups Seafood Broth (see notes above)
4-6 oz of thick Pasta per person (optional)
about 1 & 1/2 lb Seafood per person; shell's weigh in so keep this in mind.
Below is for ONE person:
ONE 4-6 oz Lobster Tail
One Crab Leg cluster
1/2 lb. Mussels
1/2 lb. fresh Vongole Clams
1/4 to 1/2 lb Bay or Sea Scallops
1/4 to 1/2 lb Shrimp
One 4-6 oz or so of Fish Fillet
Regarding Tomato Puree: (you can also use whole peeled Tomatoes; cut them up and mash
them with a potato masher, and use the liquid too!!)
NOTE: I would stay away from Tomato sauce for this recipe. The Puree, Stewed or Whole Peeled
Tomatoes really give this soup a light touch and doesn't overwhelm it like Tomato sauce could.
Regarding Saffron: Saffron is VERY expensive and sometimes hard to find. A little envelope not
even the size of a business card costs more than a half tank of gas for your car!!
However, I did find one product in the Mexican aisle of my supermarket (or in any Mexican store
too I would imagine..) called: SAZON con AZAFRAN
I don't like to really promote products here, but in this case, considering the price of Saffron, I will.
(Besides, the Italian lady who "man's" the seafood department where I shop turned me on to this. I
tried it, and hey, it is a valid alternative. If you can't afford Saffron nor find this product, it's okay.)
NOTE: About cooking with Wine or flambeing:
Because of the high heat involving sauteeing, and when flambeeing, the alcohol IS burned off,
thus the FLAME. Yes it is combustible and does actually burn. The point is to "retain" the flavor of
the plant used to make the alcohol.
Wine does not combust as it is low in volume of alcohol, but vodka, brandy, etc has a higher
volume (thus it's proof).
Don't be afraid of flambeeing, just be careful. You can always just as well buy teeny tiny bottles at
a liquor store for a couple of dollars if you're not going to flambe a lot to save money.
LET'S GET STARTED!!!
Get a few Lobster Tails, 1 per person. I usually buy the small 4-6 oz tails, if frozen,
then I defrost.
With a very sharp and large knife or with poultry sheers, cut through the very center
of the top of the tail.
This may take time, but work the scissors/knife through this tough shell.
When you have accomplished your way almost to the very end of the tail, reach in
with your fingers and separate the meat from the shell, gently pull it out and over the
top of the shell so it is "resting" on top of the shell you just cut.
It's a good idea to rinse thoroughly.
Now you want to put this on top of a foil lined pie tin or cake pan. The foil will retain
heat as it bakes.
Put a touch of water underneath the shell so while it is baking, it will steam and cook
the Lobster from underneath.
I like to melt a bit of Butter with a dash of Tabasco (microwaved) to pour over the top
of the exposed meat, and then holding my Paprika waaaayyyy up high, give it a little
You are going to want to bake this at 350*F for about 5-7 minutes, not really long.
You don't want this baked all the way, as it will finish with the soup.
Plate and set aside tails when done, retaining as much of the juices as possible.
If you have frozen Snow Crab Legs, thaw out for a bit.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add one can of Beer, and plop in your Crab Legs.
NOTE: You'll want to get 5 or 4 UP legs, the number denotes how many "fingers" are
per Crab section. Obviously the lower the number the thicker the leg. The higher the
number, the thinner the leg.
You'll want to simmer the legs for about 5 min. Remove them, set aside and discard
Depending on the size of the Clams tells one when to add the Mussels. If they are
SMALL Clams, then add the Mussels at the same time.
In this case, I have LARGE Clams, so I want to start them first.
In a LARGE saute pan put the Clams, Fennel, (shallots), Red Onion & Leeks with
Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt and Pepper.
Saute high flame.
After a few minutes the Clams will start to open.
Then add the Mussels.
Continue to saute for a few min, then add the Wine.
Clams and Mussels will begin to open.
Add the shucked or canned Oysters & canned Clams WITH their juices, gently stir in,
simmer for a few more min.
Make sure your Shrimp is ready.
Saute Bay Scallops in a notch of Butter in a medium saute pan.
Flambe with Vodka.
In a VERY large pot, put the Crab and Lobster.
Add the Tomato Puree.
Then add the broth. Gently stir in all the remaining Seafood with it's sauces and
juices.If you're adding partially baked Fillets, add them now too.
Slightly cover and simmer on low for at least 20 min. gently stirring every few
minutes. Last few minutes add the precooked Shrimp. Before done, make large
Pasta, plate Pasta and top with Seafood.