Imagine a warm summer evening in Marseille... A light salty breeze coming from the Mediterranean Sea, careless laughter of tired fishermen, coming home after a long day in the sun and a cozy little restaurant where you can have a glass of wine, watch the sea and interact with locals. You get a menu with dozens of exquisite Provençal dishes but your choice is clear. If you are in Marseille, you must try its famous Bouillabaisse. Abundance of freshly caught seafood stewed in a savoury broth, flavoured with exotic saffron, fennel and an invigorating citrusy touch of an orange peel. In Marseille, every family has their own version of the famous seafood stew. Some of them are very complex and some of them are simplified. This version of the Bouillabaisse is simple yet very satisfying. I like serving it with some toasted baguette and a little piece of butter at the bottom of each soup plate. It will give the Bouillabaisse another layer of richness and aroma...
2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed, 1 large onion, peeled and sliced, 1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, 1 large pinch saffron, soaked in 2 tablespoons orange juice for 10 minutes, 1 strip orange zest, 1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, in juice, 6 cups seafood stock or clam juice. All of the following seafood: halibut, cod, tilapia, or snapper (in large chunks); shell-on large shrimp or lump crabmeat; clams or mussels, 1 bunch of parsley, chopped.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and fennel and saut until just brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the saffron, orange zest, tomatoes, and stock or clam juice. Bring to a boil and cook until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the fish (not shellfish). Cook for about 2 minutes. Add any clams, mussels, and shrimp. Simmer until the shells just begin to open, about 4 minutes more. Add crabmeat. Cook until all shells have opened, the shrimp is pink and curled, and the fish flakes easily, about 2 minutes.