Thai Bouillabaisse

January/February 2009

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This flavorful seafood soup combines elements of the famous French bouillabaisse with the distinct Thai flavors of lemongrass, lime, ginger and hot chiles. Use two chile peppers if you like heat. Be sure to simmer, not boil, the soup or the seafood will be overcooked. Serve with a crusty whole-grain baguette to soak up the broth.

Thai Bouillabaisse

Makes: 8 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each

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  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup diced shallots, (5-6 large)
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 5-inch piece lemongrass, (see Tips), cut into 3/4-inch pieces, or zest of 1 lime
  • 1-2 small chile peppers, such as serranos or jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups fish or seafood stock, or bottled clam juice
  • 12 ounces cod, or halibut, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces raw shrimp, (see Tips), peeled, deveined and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces dry sea scallops, (see Tips), tough muscle removed, cut in half crosswise
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed well (see Tips)
  • 10 large shiitake mushrooms caps, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy casserole or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass (or lime zest) and chile pepper to taste; cook, stirring, until very soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add flour; stir well to combine. Add chicken broth and fish or seafood stock (or clam juice). Bring to a simmer; reduce heat and gently simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Carefully submerge fish, shrimp, scallops, mussels and mushrooms in the broth. Return to a gentle simmer and cook until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in lime juice. Serve garnished with avocado and cilantro.

Tips & Notes

  • Tips: Lemongrass is an aromatic tropical grass used to add a pungent, lemony flavor to Asian dishes. It is available fresh at large supermarkets and Asian groceries.
  • Shrimp is usually sold by the number needed to make one pound. For example, “21-25 count” means there will be 21 to 25 shrimp in a pound. Size names, such as “large” or “extra large,” are not standardized. In recipes calling for a specific count, order by the count (or number) per pound to be sure you're getting the size you want.
  • To peel shrimp, grasp the legs and hold onto the tail while you twist off the shell. Save the shells to make a tasty stock: Simmer, in enough water to cover, for 10 minutes, then strain. The “vein” running along a shrimp’s back (technically the dorsal surface, opposite the legs) under a thin layer of flesh is really its digestive tract.
  • To devein shrimp, use a paring knife to make a slit along the length of the shrimp. Under running water, remove the tract with the knife tip.
  • Be sure to buy “dry” sea scallops (scallops that have not been treated with sodium tripolyphosphate, or STP). Scallops that have been treated with STP (“wet” scallops) have been subjected to a chemical bath and mushy and less flavorful.
  • To scrub mussels, hold under running water and use a stiff brush to remove any barnacles. Discard any mussels with broken shells or any whose shell remains open after you tap it lightly.


Per serving: 293 calories; 12 g fat (2 g sat, 6 g mono); 99 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 33 g protein; 2 g fiber; 344 mg sodium; 708 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Selenium (71% daily value), Vitamin C (20% dv), Potassium (19% dv), Iron (15% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: 4 lean meat, 1 fat

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8 or more
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January/February 2009
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