Cooking Eorzea Week 26: Bouillabaisse

Friday, July 15th, 2022

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Cooking Eorzea | Feature Image

This week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe is a bit unique, as my visitor from a few weeks ago is back for two more weeks to stay with me…and I ended up making this dish to share with her. It was nerve-wracking making a crazy-involved dish for someone else, especially when I had never done things like fillet whole red snapper before or ever really made a soup before. The fish has a head and eyes that are staring at me, after all! It is a little disturbing for me – especially as I have only ever bought pre-filleted fish before in my life.

The smile my visitor made when she ate the Bouillabaisse soup – and especially the bread – was well worth it. I am falling in love with cooking, and I want to make the people in my life happy with the food that I make. And while I do wish that I could mince vegetables faster and that I could figure out how to cook things more easily, I am hoping that that is something that will just come with time and experience for me as I continue my cooking journey.

My visitor will also be here for next week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe, and I am hopeful that it will turn out delicious for us both then too…but if it doesn’t, I will definitely write about that, too.

If you’ve missed an installment of Cooking Eorzea, you can check out all the prior recipes here.

Recipe of the Week

This week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe is the 28th recipe in The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook and is the first soup recipe for me to make: Bouillabaisse from the La Noscea region of Eorzea with an ‘Easy’ difficulty rating.

Looking at all of this seafood that I had to cook with, I was worried about how it would turn out…especially because I had to fillet several whole red snapper fish to make this dish. Anyway, here is what the Bouillabaisse is supposed to look like:

Cooking Eorzea |Bouillabaisse Professional Photo

Image courtesy of Insight Editions.

Featured Ingredient of the Week

Cooking Eorzea | Saffron

Photo by author.

The Featured Ingredient of the Week for this week’s Cooking Eorzea column is saffron.

Saffron is the costliest spice in the world, as the spice comes from the stigma and styles, or threads, or the plant. It smells absolutely wonderful, and I was surprised at how saffron requires people to pick the threads by hand. Each flour gives roughly seven milligrams of dried saffron, and it is just mind-blowing how LITTLE that actually is in weight.

It about killed me when I spilled a few threads of it while I was trying to scoop out enough saffron for this week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe.

My Cooking Attempt

This week’s Cooking Eorzea recipe definitely has the most ingredients of any recipe so far, and I could barely fit them onto the countertop:

Cooking Eorzea | Bouillabaisse ingredients.

Photo by author.

The red snapper turned out to come fully intact, albeit scaled and gutted, and fully frozen. I turned the faucet on cool, bagged the fish, and then placed it under the faucet to defrost.

Cooking Eorzea | Defrosting red snapper.

Photo by author.

While flipping the fish every so often under the cool water, I turned my attention to everything else that needed to be done. First, I cut the stalks off of the fennel and I minced up the fennel bulb.

Cooking Eorzea | Slicing off the stalks of the fennel.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing fennel bulb.

I then minced up the carrots (after peeling them first, of course) and the tomatoes.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing carrots.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing tomatoes.

Next up, I minced the celery stalks and the onion. The onion ended up making me cry hardcore as I was dicing it up, and that was absolutely AWFUL.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing celery stalks.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing an onion.

I turned my attention to the leek next. I sliced off the leafy part, set that aside, and then minced up the rest of the leek. This vegetable was surprisingly light and springy to work with!

Cooking Eorzea | Cutting the leafy part off a leek.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Mincing a leek.

Once all of this was done, the red snapper was fully defrosted. I pulled a fish out of the bag, laid it down on the cutting board, and then I pulled out the butcher knife. I won’t lie – this was the first time that I was filleting a fish with bones in it, and the guidance I had was from an employee at the fish department of the grocery store who talked me through it before I started making this week’s recipe. Cutting the head and tail off was…a bit gross, but I made it happen.

Cooking Eorzea | Beheading and betailing a red snapper.

Photo by author.

Tossing the head and tail aside, I grabbed the body and I started to fillet it along the skeleton as best as I could. The first couple fish were kinda messy and complicated, but I finally started to get the ‘hang’ of it by the end of the third and final fish. It was nerve-wracking, as I was worried about cutting myself and about being able to remove the fillets without pulling a bunch of bones out too.

Cooking Eorzea | Filleting red snapper.

Photo by author.

This is what the full set of fillets look like…and how they looked like after I chunked them further with the butcher knife:

Cooking Eorzea | Red snapper fillets.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Chunked red snapper.

I then turned my attention to the lobster tails. First, I cut through the top of the lobster shell all the way down, and then I flipped it around and separated the lobster tail meat from the underside of the shell too.

Cooking Eorzea | Cutting the lobster tail shell

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Slicing

I then pulled the lobster tail meat out of the cracked shell and repeated it with the other lobster tail. Afterwards, I sliced both tails in half.

Cooking Eorzea | Sliced lobster tail.

Photo by author.

I then sliced the scallops in half and detailed the deveined and deshelled shrimp.

Cooking Eorzea | Halved scallops.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Detailed shrimp.

Finally, I zested an orange.

Cooking Eorzea | Zesting an orange.

Photo by author.

Here is a photograph of all of the ingredients for the broth and of seafood for the Bouillabaisse.

Cooking Eorzea | Prepared ingredients.

Photo by author.

I placed the tall pot on the stovetop burner, and I added in olive oil until it started to warm up.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding olive oil to the pot.

Photo by author.

Once the oil was prepped, I added in the onion, celery, leek, fennel, and carrots. I then started to stir it all together until the vegetables had softened up after about 10 or so minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding the onion, celery, leek, fennel, and carrots into the pot.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Whisking the ingredients together.

I then added in the tomatoes, garlic, salt, saffron, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme sprig, rosemary sprig, and orange zest. Once they were all added in, I blended all of those ingredients as well.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in tomatoes, garlic, salt, saffron, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme sprig, rosemary sprig, and orange zest.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Blending the ingredients together.

Once that was all mixed together, I added in the dry white wine, and I let it settle until it had reduced by about half.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the dry white wine.

Photo by author.

After that, I poured in all of the fish stock and dropped the bay leaves in on top.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in fish stock.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in bay leaves.

I then covered the tall pot, and I let the broth simmer for 20 minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Simmering the broth.

Photo by author.

While the Bouillabaisse broth was simmering, I preheated the oven for the baguette bread.

Cooking Eorzea | Preheating the oven.

Photo by author.

After the timer elapsed, I pulled out the bay leaves, the rosemary sprig, and thyme sprig.

Cooking Eorzea | Removing sprig.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Removing another sprig.

I then got out my brand-new immersive blender, and I turned it on. I inserted it into the broth, and I let it blend everything together until the broth was just smooth and…well…blended. The immersion blender kept getting sucked into the bottom of the pot, and I had to work a little to keep moving it around to blend all of the ingredients together in the pot until the Bouillabaisse broth was finished.

Cooking Eorzea | Using the immersion blender in the pot.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Finished broth.

I then added in pepper and salt into the broth to season it.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding salt and pepper to the broth.

Photo by author.

I turned up the heat on the broth, let it heat up, and then I added in the red snapper and let it cook for a couple-ish minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the red snapper.

Photo by author.

I added in the mussels and clams, and I let them cook in the pot for three minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in mussels.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in oysters.

I then added in the scallops…

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the scallops.

Photo by author.

…The shrimp…

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in the shrimp.

Photo by author.

…And the sliced lobster tails.

Cooking Eorzea | Adding in sliced lobster tail.

Photo by author.

While everything was cooking on the stovetop in the pot, I turned my attention to the baguette. I pulled it onto my cleaned chopping block, and I started to slice it into thick pieces.

Cooking Eorzea | Slicing the baguette into pieces.

Photo by author.

After that, I placed the baguette pieces onto a baking tray, and I let them bake in the oven for four minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Baking the baguette slices.

Photo by author.

I pulled the tray out of the oven, flipped the baguette pieces, and let them bake on the other side for another four minutes.

Cooking Eorzea | Flipping baguette pieces.

Photo by author.

After the baguette pieces were finished, I pulled them out of the oven and brushed the exposed top of each piece with olive oil and then sprinkled salt onto each piece.

Cooking Eorzea | Painting olive oil onto baguette pieces.

Photos by author.

Cooking Eorzea | Sprinkling salt onto the baguette pieces.

And of course, here is the final Bouillabaisse dish for this week’s Cooking Eorzea!

Cooking Eorzea | Bouillabaisse dish.

Photo by author.

The Bouillabaisse was absolutely amazing. The broth, while a bit milder than what I was expecting, really helped to bring out the flavor of the seafood. It was slightly annoying to scoop out the mussels and clams, but I didn’t mind it ultimately too much. And while there were a few small bones left behind in the red fish, it wasn’t too many. The bread absolutely soaked up the broth as well, and I kept adding seafood onto the soaked baguette slices and eating them all at once.

Both myself and my visitor ate FAR too much of it, and she particularly loved the bread slices…though apparently, she loves bread in and of itself a lot.

As a note: I ended up using my Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn coaster for this dish, as the Bouillabaisse soup seemed to be something that would absolutely be popular in the port-city of Limsa Lominsa among its pirate citizens and adventurers at the Drowning Wench!

Afterword

This is a Cooking Eorzea dish that I don’t think I would make again. The reason is simple: this is a very costly dish to make. Seafood is very, very expensive to buy…and this dish had quite a lot of different seafood present in it. If I was to make it again, I definitely would try to order the red snapper fillets already prepared. I have ZERO desire to EVER fillet my own fish again, as it was definitely a bit mortifying to decapitate a red snapper.

Let’s talk ‘thank yous’! I want to first thank Victoria Rosenthal for writing The Ultimate FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Cookbook, and for how she constantly is making me learn something new on a weekly basis for Cooking Eorzea. I also want to thank the staff over at Insight Editions for giving me permission to use the photos from their book to show how these recipes are actually supposed to look. Furthermore, I owe Brandon Rose a special thanks for creating the logo for this series on short notice. You should check him and his works out over on Twitter.

Finally, I want to thank both Hiromichi Tanaka and Naoki Yoshida for producing FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in both iterations of the game. This column simply wouldn’t exist without their direction on this cross-platform MMORPG.

Next Week

Next week’s recipe is for Cawl Cennin, which can be prepared one of two ways per the cookbook: with chicken stock or with vegetable stock. I will be making the vegetable stock version, as my visitor is pescatarian and I definitely want to share a bowl of soup with her.

Please come back to see how it turns out!



Have you ever filleted raw fish before? How did it go for you?

Let us know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at interviews@oprainfall.com