Rhode Island Bouillabaisse

Guest Post

Today is a “guest” post by my good friend Jeanne.  She lives in Southern California, but she and her husband have a Summer home in Little Compton, Rhodes Island.  She sent me these instructions on how to make a Rhode Island Bouillabaisse.

This is what she said….

We had company last Saturday night. And since this is suppose to be a vacation where I do something fun, I decided to drag out all the old recipes I had been saving for the past six years to test out on Bob (husband), as well as any and all guests. So here’s how you make Rhode Island Bouillabaisse.

Step #1
Go to Earle’s gas station and buy a bicycle with a basket.

Then you can ride to Sakonnet Lobster and buy three live lobster in a bag without carrying the little devils home around your neck.

Earle’s has a really good deal on used bicycles. You buy one for $40 and then sell it back to him for $20 when you leave. It’s good exercise, not to mention handy when Bob takes the Volvo to the Historical Society in Providence.

Step #2
Bring Lobster home and Google “how to cook a lobster.” Then dig a really big pot out of the garage, fill it with water and sit around for an hour while it comes to a boil. Toss the lobsters in — one at a time — head first. Yes, they do cry out in pain. No, just kidding, but I am squeamish about this stuff. It’s not like I do this every day. I could get used to it. Once the water comes back to a boil, wait 15 minutes for them to cook. Remove from pot and cool under water.

Step #3
Google how to make Lobster Stock. Read about five or six recipe and take what looks like the best instructions from all and make it your own.

Step #4
Take the lobsters out of their shells, but not the sac behind the eyes or the grey “stuff” in the middle. Refrigerate lobsters.

Step #5
Combine diced onions, carrots, celery, garlic, lots of garlic, and sauté for five or six minutes. Add all the lobster shells that you crushed into pieces and 4-5 tomatoes cut up. Cover with 2-3 inches of cold water and a cup dry white wine. Then add a bunch of mystery red pepper — something that a friend gave me a few tablespoons in June in a plastic bag. Of course I can’t remember the name of this pepper. And no, I didn’t write in on the bag, but it’s good with seafood and you can buy it once in a while at Williams Sonoma. Simmer until your kitchen stinks real good.

Step #6
Remove all those lobster shells and vegetables and refrigerate the stock. Drink a glass of very nice Riesling and try to figure out how to tamp down the heat in the stock generated by the “mystery red pepper.”

Step #7
Call your dinner guests and ask them to bring 2 Tablespoons of Pernod tomorrow– because you’re too cheap to buy a bottle for one dish. You think about asking if they have any $65/oz of saffron, but decide against it. I’m sure no one will notice the absence of saffron.

Step #8
Google how to make Bouillabaisse, which by now you know how to spell correctly.

Step #9
Go to Lee’s Supermarket in Westport — this time by car because it’s too far to bicycle — and consult with the very nice wine lady as to what to serve with Bouillabaisse. And, by the way, how do you tone down the mystery red pepper? Magically enough she says Riesling will do the trick. Whereas Chardonnay will heat up a spice in your mouth, Riesling will tone it down. Sold — along with a very nice bottle of French White to drink with dinner. Please don’t ask me which white. I don’t know which white. The bottle just says French White. The French play this very close to the vest.

Step #9
Stop at the fish market and pick up cod, haddock, mussels and clams, and scallops.

Step #10
Sauté a new batch of diced onions, garlic, tomatoes, carrots, celery, fennel and a potato and then add home brewed “Lobster Stock.” Simmer for several hours and then add Pernod, along with mussels and clams. When the latter open their little shells and give up, add chunks of the cod, haddocks and scallops– about five minutes. At the very end add the cooked lobster.

Step #11
Sit back and wait for the compliments. The French White, by the way, paired very nicely with the Bouillabaisse. I usually don’t “pair,” but people on the East Coast expect people from California to know how to “pair.”

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6 thoughts on “Rhode Island Bouillabaisse

  1. John Cheever meets Mary Hartman. Sounds fantastic–wish I could have been there (although the chicken you cooked for us in Little Compton was delicious!). Jeanne, never a bad thing to have a bottle of Pernod about the place–an aquired taste, perhaps, but Chef Leslie has a great recipe on this blog for the Level Crossing cocktail, in which Pernod plays a starring role. Enjoy the dog days of summer! !

  2. Joyce, the friend that provided the red pepper seasoning, has always stated that Jeanne should write a book. Each of her experiences are a laugh. By the way, the red pepper is – “Piment d’Espelette”.

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