Cooking School: Bouillabaisse with a Red Pepper Rouille

Bouillabaisse (0458) by Meeta K. Wolff

I complain of it sometimes but truth be told I am guilty of it too. Trying to be faster than the fast-paced life we are living in. A touch and go world in need of more information in 140 characters. Our lives are ruled by news tickers, coffee-on-the-go and internet shopping. Apps organize our day, keep us “in touch” and connected, while we are constantly on the move
Anything that will make us faster, better and achieve more - in what seems to be less time than we had before. 

At times I find myself on this fast track, raging ahead to keep up. Being a Gemini, I am ruled by Mercury and have the speediest of minds, running a zigzag path through the world of ideas and juggling all it takes. I am usually happiest in verbal, fast-paced environments, sharing knowledge with friends and learning from new people around me. I like tapping into the minds of others, and exchange what each knows through conversation. So being able to keep up is not really my problem. Actually the 21st Century is exactly my kind of time period.

My grudge about this accelerated lifestyle is that it all seems so hasty and superficial, where time is the most precious commodity and no one really has any to spare. We text message our friends that we will arrive late, we tweet apologizing for late emails and we wish them Happy Birthday on Facebook. Like I said earlier … I am guilty of all of the above too. We seem to prefer skimming the surface rather than plunging the depths of a topic. And I miss being able to discover the deeper realms of a topic. 

Bouillabaisse (0463) by Meeta K. Wolff

I find myself hitting the brakes more often. Pulling out on the grassy knoll to take a breath of fresh air and watch the rest whizz by. At some point I will stop my friends and capture them in debates, engage them in discussions or dissect a current topic. I love challenging thoughts and provoking deeper conversation and I am enamored by the deeper thinkers, who give me a new insight to the topic. This helps me to keep my belief that the world does not revolve around casual acquaintances and swift social skills.

I cherish those of my friends who see me burning the candle on both ends and are quick to help me put out the flames. They pull me into a safe zone and bring me down to the ground. We then cook together, read poetry, talk about things on our minds and just enjoy the breather before we have to get up and join the race again.

Bouillabaisse (0455) by Meeta K. Wolff 

Cooking a magnificent dish from scratch is one of the ways I like to slow down the pace. A bouillabaisse has got to be one of those grounding dishes that one just cannot add any hast to. It certainly does not take days to make a bouillabaisse, on the contrary traditionally, it was something that was much simpler to make. Home cooks threw together slices of fish into water, olive oil, and sometimes wine, an onion or two, tomatoes, saffron, some herbs then gave the ingredients a furious boil and dinner was ready. However, in those days the recipes were not constructed to maximize on flavor. It was a quick and cheap way to get dinner to the table.

Over the years it has morphed into a culinary delight and has become the most famous fish stew of the Mediterranean. But is it really a stew? Some will argue as the bouillabaisse must be boiled vigorously to achieve an amalgamation of olive oil with water and, if using, the wine. It is also not technically a soup because traditionally the broth of the bouillabaisse and the solids are eaten separately. Whatever you want to call it, I think everyone needs to make a bouillabaisse at home. Whether it’s a traditional one or your own tweaked version, I recommend taking time to make this from scratch for therapeutic reasons. Make the fish stock first and then open a bottle of wine and enjoy the sublime mix of the ingredients as they come together.  

While the home of the bouillabaisse is considered to be Marseilles, it is made in every little port throughout the coastal regions of Provence and enjoyed in almost every good restaurant in France. Fish is not the most distinguishing characteristic of a bouillabaisse, because all fish stews and soups contain fish. The unique flavoring for the bouillabaisse is derived from the mixture of saffron, fennel seeds, and orange zest.

In my version, I have tweaked a few things, giving a slightly different note and a modern take to the dish. It is an experiment that I think really worked well. In my Roasted Fennel Soup with Pernod and Smoked Salmon I found the combination of fennel and Pernod worked exquisitely and decided to substitute the white wine with Pernod for the bouillabaisse. Keeping the fragrance of fennel and aromas of saffron this was an explosion of flavors. A crusty rustic baguette and my red pepper rouille, is all you need to boost the flavors further.

Workshop Update and News


We have had some awesome response to the Ettersburg Design and Composition food photography and styling workshop here in Weimar this July. Places sold out within 3 days and we’re getting more requests for the workshop. We have decided to open up 4 additional places on the workshop.

But wait we have more news to share.

HollyJulia, Lisa and I have invited the gorgeous Holly Becker of Decor 8 to join us for the workshop. Holly will be guest speaking not only about her inspiring journey, but also about interior styling, going beyond the plate, trends in cookbooks and food photography & styling and creating creative and meaningful blog content. She will also spend time discussing and answering participants questions and queries.

If you are not familiar with Holly go and check out her website and take in some of her wonderful features.

Holly Becker is Founder/Editor of, Author of international best-seller, "Decorate", and Founder of decor8 ecourses, "Blogging Your Way".

Want to join us?

You will find the all the details for the Ettersburg Design and Composition Workshop on the announcement page.

Registrations: We are now open for only 4 more places so make sure you register quickly. Register here.

Please note: The additional 4 registrations are accepted on a first-come-first-serve basis.You are required to make full payment upon registration. Once you register you will receive an email with details on how to make the payment, which must be made within 5 days from date of email otherwise your registration is void due to no payment. Once you have made payment your place is secured and you will receive further information for the workshop, including a detailed programme.

Recipe: Bouillabaisse with a Red Pepper Rouille

Printable version of recipe here

Bouillabaise with a Red Pepper Rouille by Meeta K. Wolff

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: approx. 6

For the Bouillabaisse

  • 2 fennel
  • 60 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 parsnips, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1.75 liters fish stock
  • 1kg ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 60ml Pernod
  • 800g Victoria Sea Bass, filleted, cut into cubes
  • 800g Pangasius, filleted, cut into cubes
  • 500g prawns, peeled and cleaned
  • 500g black mussels, scrubbed, bearded
  • Salt and freshly crushed pepper
For the Red Pepper Rouille
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 250g roasted red bell pepper from a jar, diced
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 250g mayonnaise


  1. Trim the tops of the fennel, reserving trimmings for stock and fronds for serving, and chop fennel finely. Heat oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add fennel, onion, parsnip, garlic, leeks and fennel seeds, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until vegetables soften.

  2. Combine saffron and 125ml warm fish stock in a small bowl and allow to steep for 10 minutes.

  3. Quarter the tomatoes, removing and discarding seeds, then chop finely. Add tomato paste to vegetables in the pan and cook for 1 minute. Add the saffron mixture, tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and the remaining stock to the pan and simmer for 30 minutes. Season generously with salt. Stir in cayenne and Pernod.

  4. Add the fish to the pan, then prawns, making sure the seafood is submerged in the liquid. Boil for 5 minutes or until seafood is just cooked.

  5. In the meantime place the mussels with 2 tablespoons water in a frying pan over high heat. Cover with a lid and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3 minutes or until the shells open.

  6. Divide the bouillabaisse into bowls. Top with mussels and scatter with reserved fennel fronds. Serve with rustic French baguette and rouille (recipe below).

  7. To make the rouille, finely chop garlic cloves with cayenne pepper and saffron in a food processor. Pour the vinegar into processor and blend until almost smooth. Blend in mayonnaise scrap into a bowl then stir in the diced red pepper. Season the rouille to taste with salt and pepper.


Bouillabaisse (0460) by Meeta K. Wolff

My beautiful and saucy big sister Jamie has invited us all to join her for the Monthly Mingle in April. I am late! Jamie asked us to spend April in Paris with her and I hope she forgives my tardiness --- but I hear in France it is très chic to arrive a few minutes late! So I am doing this in perfect style ;o) Enjoy the sublime mixture of incredible flavors and aromas in the bouillabaisse and if you make it please do tell me what you thought about the flavors.

I will be spending the weekend in Berlin as my other sister-from-another-mother Jeanne is flying in to visit me. We are planning an awesome itinerary with shopping, sightseeing, food, photographs and yes … there is a certain Norwegian pop singer involved! We’ll be painting Berlin red this weekend!

Wishing you all a great week and weekend ahead!

You might like these ideas from WFLH:

German Lentil and Sausage Stew Ras El Hanout Lamb Tagine with Pumpkin and Apricots Yellow Bell Pepper and Fava Bean Soup

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2012 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. Gorgeous! That is the most beautiful bouillabaisse I have ever seen. So appetizing. The rouille looks mouthwatering too.

    Perfect pics, as always.



  2. An elegant bouillabaisse and a good excuse to slow down in the kitchen. The pictures, as always, are gorgeous. Congratulations on such a large outcome for your photography workshop.

  3. Zesty as usual... what a thoughtful, lovely post making me, for one, stop and think about how we not only rush around but try and achieve too many things all at once ending in getting very little done at all. Meanwhile, what suffers most chez nous is the food. Sad...because when I stop and take the time I end up with a gorgeous meal like this stunning, perfect bouillabaisse (which I have never done before...yet). Absolutely fabulous version! Have fun with Jeanne and I can't wait to hug you (and sleep with you) in just a couple of weeks!

  4. A great recipe - I'm really a Rouille-Lover! Wise words, have had similar thoughts last weekend and decided to be offline and less digital. I am so looking forward to the workshop - learning, practicing and chatting with new foodie-friends - thank you for such a great opportunity, Meeta! Warmly, Sandy

  5. This looks amazing - your photos are always a joy to look at! Beautiful!

  6. That's fantastic news Meeta! Looking forward to hearing all of Holly's secrets! Beautiful bouillabaise too. I still have this thing with bouillabaise that stems from never having eaten fish when growing up. it seems to be one of my last remnants to get rid of and this might just be the time!

  7. Only wish my sister didn't move away from Germany a few years ago -- could have used the excuse of visiting her and ya'll as well :)

  8. Wow looks fantastic....great photographs Meeta!

  9. Thank you so much for your feedback!

    Sarah: yes cooking for relaxation is a perfect way to slow down things. It helps me reassess many things in my head.

    Jamie: ;o) Too true - we try to do so much at once that we only touch the surface. At least we take time in the kitchen LOL!

    Sandy: Looking forward to seeing you at the workshop too.

    notyet100, Marushka82: Thank you so much!

    Simone: One of the reasons I like the bouillabaisse especially serving it to people who are careful with fish soup is because of its incredible mix of flavors. Not such fish, but the saffron, fennel all bring it together perfectly. Do try!

    Sara / Nina - Thank you ladies

    kiran: I hope you do make it to Germany soon!

  10. This is such a thought provoking post. We do rush to keep up for fear we might get left behind .. behind what I wonder and is it bad to be behind? Enjyoed every droolworthy image and the recipe sounds amazing! As always it's a treat for the heart, mind and soul to come here!


  11. Agreed! Life is so fast paced and digital. Everyone are with iPad, iPhone and I what not. Such a refreshing post and I love seafood in any form.

  12. I think we're all guilty of rushing through the day and complete as many tasks as possible.
    We should learn to stop and smell the roses, enjoy the fresh air and spend more time with the loved ones.
    The bouillabaisse sounds amazing. Beautiful photos as usual Meeta

  13. Oh your soup makes me hungry baby. And now I want to come to your workshop too, it is a true gem of a workshop!

  14. I saw this in fb but could only come here today, I have been drooling from tha time i saw in fb. How i wish i had this for my lunch.

  15. Oh my word, Meeta! That looks incredible! Such gorgeous pictures and gorgeous food.

  16. Oh my, I am beside myself. I think I'll slow down for a moment and take in your beautiful bouillibaisse!

  17. Goodness me that looks mouthwatering! I could not agree more with your thoughts in this post. reading it, I felt like I was reading my mind! I do find cooking to be the best therapy, maybe the machanical aspect of it, the simmer of patience, the aroma and colour therapy of ingredients... soul soothing!
    Enjoyed reading your post, and loved that we are both Geminis :)

  18. Meeta, greetings to you and you filled with so much love blog!Your post really provoke me and gave me so much to think of, as I do really relax while cooking and that is why your pictures along with the amazing receipts are making me feel really great and relaxed and I wish I could join ur workshop in June! As someone previously said, it is a real treat for the heart, mind and soul to come here!Hugs!

  19. That definitely is finger licking good!

  20. Ironically, I 've just been thinking about fleeting time. This weekend is my father's yarzheit (anniversary of his death) and his favorite dish was bouillabaisse. I believe you've inspired me to make it in his Honor. Thank you and good luck with your seminar. I wish I was close enough to take it. My camera and I are still just aquaintances and I would like to become friends.

  21. Will try it tonight - wish me luck :)

  22. That looks incredible! It is so gorgeous <3

  23. Hello,Meeta! I want to express my attitude regarding the article you have posted! After reading it I started thinking about the rush in our daily life . Now,honestly,I will make my life better for sure!
    Thank you again!


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.