Bouillabaisse - Fast French Stew of Fish, Tomato and Olive Oil

Image of a French Fish Stew with Spy Valley Rose
Fast non-fried fish recipes are very useful in Summer. This recipe originally from Provence is super fast, even with my young family, it is a favourite.  Richness from the ample olive oil mixed with the tomato is very satisfying.
1/4 cup of cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 small bulb of fennel, sliced
½ onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2 cups (500ml) of fish stock
½ cup finely chopped fresh tomatoes, (or 1/4 cup of canned chopped tomatoes)
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
600g white fish fillets, tarakihi or gurnard, quartered
A few handfuls of clams, small mussels or pipis if you have them.
12 prawns, prepared as you like to eat them*
Frech bread, chopped parsley, sliced fresh chilli and lemon wedges to serve.


  1. Heat the olive oil in a deep-sided sauté pan, it’ll need to take all the ingredients, so have a look at your pile of fish and shellfish to check your pan is big enough.
  2. Bring the oil up to medium heat, not smoking and add the fennel, onion, carrot, and garlic. Cook gently for 7-10 minutes, until all are soft, and the onion is transparent.
  3. Add the fish stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up all the good flavours from cooking out the fennel and onion. Add the tomatoes and bring to the boil.
  4. Add the fish and prawns and simmer for 5 minutes, check the fish. As soon as it is just cooked turn off the heat. Scatter with the parsley and chilli and serve.

Makes: Enough for 4-6 depending on how much bread you eat with it.

Notes: What better wine match than something French!  See our famous French Collection.

Prawns: If you are good with a whole prawn, add it whole. Otherwise, de-veined tails are fine. If you do have the head and shells, simmer these in the fish stock for a few minutes before you use it, it will impart a great shellfish flavour.

Please use fresh garlic, it is harvested in early summer in NZ and will be sweet and fresh.

Saffron, sometimes I will infuse a bit of saffron in the warm fish stock, it gives a complexity that is both astringent and floral.  Worth a try if this recipe makes it into your regular rotation.

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    Notes: I tested this recipe with three commonly available NZ white fish.

    Ling which took 10 minutes plus resting 5.

    Gurnard and Tarakihi both took 7 minutes plus resting. 

    The resting gives you a bit of wriggle room but look for fillets about the same size.  With the Ling for example I folded the tail of the fillets under to make them the same width as the fatter section of the fillet.