Chef's Recipes

Red mullet bouillabaisse

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for red mullet bouillabaisse by Donovan Cooke.

By Donovan Cooke
  • 40 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 50 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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Red mullet bouillabaisse
"Bouillabaisse is a fish soup originating from the French port city Marseille," says Cooke. "It was a stew made by fishermen using the bony rockfish, which they were unable to sell to restaurants or at markets. "The rouille is a traditional sauce served as a garnish. Bouillabaisse is a delicious way to use a mixture of seafood, or fish you may have leftover."


  • 1 red mullet (450gm), cleaned, cut into 3-4 pieces, plus 4 fillets extra (325gm each), halved
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 160 ml olive oil
  • 75 gm each fennel, carrot, onion and celery, finely diced
  • ¾ vine-ripened tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 700 gm (about 6) kipfler potatoes
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 75 ml Pernod
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.8 litres fish stock
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 1 kg clams
  • 8 scallops, trimmed
  • 4 flathead fillets (250gm)
  • 50 gm red capsicum (about ¼), seeds removed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 kipfler potato (120gm), peeled and diced
  • 150 ml fish stock
  • 2 tsp saffron threads
  • 1 large hard-boiled egg yolk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 large anchovy fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 70 ml mild-flavoured extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp Sherry vinegar, or to taste


  • 1
    Dust whole mullet pieces with cayenne pepper, heat 40ml olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and fry mullet until lightly browned on all sides (4-6 minutes), then remove from pan and set aside. Add another 100ml oil to pan with fennel, carrot, onion, celery, tomato and herbs, cover and cook until fennel, carrot and celery are just tender (5-7 minutes). Meanwhile, dice 350gm potatoes then add to pan with mullet and wine, and reduce by half (5-6 minutes). Add Pernod and tomato paste, cover with fish stock, then bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are soft (30-40 minutes). Transfer to a blender in batches and process until smooth, strain through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan and season to taste.
  • 2
    Meanwhile, for rouille, preheat oven to 180C. Place capsicum on a small roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, season to taste and roast until tender (20-30 minutes). Bring potato, fish stock and saffron threads to the simmer in a saucepan over low-medium heat and cook until potato is tender and liquid has almost evaporated (15-20 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside. When cool enough to handle, peel capsicum and combine in a blender with cooked and raw egg yolks, anchovies, garlic and mustard, blend until smooth, then gradually add extra-virgin olive oil in a steady stream while blending. Add Sherry vinegar, blend to combine and season to taste.
  • 3
    Cook remaining potatoes in boiling salted water until tender (15-20 minutes), drain, peel, thinly slice and keep warm.
  • 4
    Heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat and cook sliced fennel until tender (4-6 minutes).
  • 5
    Bring soup to the simmer, add clams, scallops and fillets and simmer until seafood is cooked and clams open (5-6 minutes). Divide among bowls with fennel and boiled, sliced potatoes, and serve with rouille and sliced baguette to the side.


Drink Suggestion: 2013 Sorrenberg Gamay, Beechworth. Drink suggestion by Garrett Donovan