Although rooted in humble beginnings as a fisherman’s dinner made from catch-of-the-day that wouldn’t sell at the market, this is the king of French seafood stews – a fragrant broth of fresh fish and shellfish, saffron and herbs served with toasted bread and rouille or aioli. This recipe cuts down on more than a few hours of prep time and adds some extra depth of flavour by starting with a good quality store-bought stock and adding fresh fish bones and aromatics to it.


Serves 6

Preparation Time

Cook time

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Cook's NoteCooking bouillabaisse from frozen filleted fish or frozen half-shell mussels will not yield the same flavour. However, fresh prawns are hard to come by and frozen whole prawns work very well. Thaw and clean before use.
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  • 2kg fresh whole fish (yellow tail, mullet, scorpion fish etc.)
  • 700g whole prawns, thawed
  • 1kg fresh live black mussels

For the stock:

  • 750 ml good quality store-bought chicken stock or fish stock
  • 1 litre water
  • Fresh fish bones and heads (see above)
  • Prawn heads and shells (see above)
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • A few parsley stalks
  • 5 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf

For the bouillabaisse:

  • 80ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 leeks, peeled and finely chopped (about a cup)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 1 bouquet garni (2 fennel sticks, a few parsley stalks, 2-3 thyme sprigs)
  • 1 piece of orange rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, finely pureed with a blender
  • 1,25-1,5 litres fish stock
  • 600g fresh fish fillet portions (see above)
  • 400g shelled prawn tails (see above)
  • 1kg fresh black mussels, cleaned (see above)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • A handful fresh parsley and fennel fronds (or dill), roughly chopped, to serve
  • Baguette, sliced and toasted, to serve

For the rouille:

  • 1 cup good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/2 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 45ml bouillabaisse broth
  • 5ml smoked paprika


To prepare the seafood:

Ask your fishmonger to scale, gut and fillet the fresh fish. Keep the bones and heads to use in your stock, and cut the fillets in large portions, skin on, for the bouillabaisse. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remove the heads of the prawns and peel the tails, also removing the small digestive tracts. Keep the shells separately for your stock. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Rinse the mussels under clean water, then scrub the shells if necessary and remove the beards by pulling them off firmly. Discard any mussels that won’t close at this stage, or that have broken shells. Refrigerate uncovered until ready to use.

To make the stock:

Place all the ingredients in a large Le Creuset Stainless Steel Professional Stockpot and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, then strain through a fine sieve. Measure 1,25 litres and set aside for use in the bouillabaisse. (Cool any leftovers and freeze for use in another dish.)

To make the bouillabaisse:

Using a Le Creuset 26cm Signature Round Casserole, heat the olive oil and fry the onion, leek and carrots over medium heat until soft and starting to brown slightly, stirring often (about 10-15 minutes).

Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then add the wine and stir well to deglaze the bottom of the casserole.

Add the saffron, bouquet garni, orange rind, bay leaf, tomatoes and fish stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.

Add the fish, prawn tails and mussels, then cover with a lid. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly for 6-8 minutes until just cooked (don’t overcook). Uncover, then season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately in bowls with chopped herbs, toasted baguette and rouille.

To make the rouille:

Mix all ingredients well, then serve with the toasted baguette and bouillabaisse.

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Images and recipe courtesy of The Food Fox.