We had every intention of making this dish following the recipe exactly, right down to making our own fish stock & mayonnaise but the day's errands took much longer than originally planned. So, we ended up making a few changes in order to save some time. Despite these changes the final result was really wonderful. The broth was rich & flavorful, perfect for soaking into pieces of toasted French bread, & the fish was cooked to absolute moist perfection.
Matt's favorite part of the whole dish was the the garlic mayonnaise. Half of it we stirred into the broth while cooking. The other half we spread on the slices of toast. You could also just dallop it on top of each serving of stew.
1 T olive oil
1 leek, light green & white parts sliced
1 medium carrot, sliced
1 small onion, peeled & chopped
1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded & chopped
4 c fish stock
1/3 c white wine
pinch of saffron
pinch of dried thyme
pinch of fennel seeds
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves
pinch of salt
2/3 c mayonnaise
1/8 t lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 t paprika
1/2 lb firm white fish fillet (we used cod), cut into large pieces
8 mussels, scrubbed & debearded
1/4 lb bay scallops
french bread, sliced & toasted if you wish
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pan or dutch oven over low heat. Add the leeks, carrots & onions. Cook for about 8 minutes until tender but not brown. Add the tomato & cook another 2 minutes. Pour in the stock & white wine then add the saffron, thyme, fennel & bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover & let simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, grind the garlic cloves & salt into a paste with a mortar & pestle. Stir into the mayonnaise. Stir in the lemon juice, cayenne & paprika. Set aside.
(Traditionally the broth is strained at this time but we decided to leave the vegetables in. Our favorite little bistro in San Francisco, Baker Street Bistro, served theirs with some vegetables in it & Matt wanted to recreate their version.)
Put 1/2 the garlic mayonnaise in a small bowl, add a little of the broth & whisk to blend. Whisk into the soup pot. Bring the broth back up to a rolling boil. Add the fish to the broth & gently boil for a minute. Add the mussels & continue a gentle boil for 4 more minutes. Add the scallops & cook for 2 more minutes.
Serve in large shallow bowls with the remaining mayonnaise & lots of bread for dipping.
One more note on the broth...since we used prepared fish stock we technically didn't need to use the leek, onion, carrot or tomato in this since those items were already used to make the stock but we did because we wanted the vegetables in the finished stew & we thought it would bump the flavor up more. If you do make this with prepared fish stock you can skip those ingredients if you wish but do add the saffron, thyme, bay & fennel.