Bring the Mediterranean Home: Bouillabaisse From the Fig & Olive Cookbook

Fig & Olive Cookbook

Don’t let the cold get you down. A new cookbook from Fig & Olive, one of our favorite Oak Street haunts, has arrived just in time for the inevitable hard-core winter weather.

Sure, I’d rather be sitting on their lovely terrace, enjoying a beautiful bouillabaisse and sipping a dry Tavel rosé, but we all have dreams, don’t we? The closest I’ll get to that over the next few months will be to open my copy of “Fig & Olive: The Cuisine of the French Riviera” (Assouline, 2015), read it, and weep. But then I’ll get myself together, pick up a few ingredients at the grocery store, and make this soul-warming dish that rests at the heart of Mediterranean cooking. And I will sit at home with a nice winter salad (perhaps bitter greens, olives, fresh orange sections and Marcona almonds, tossed with lemon juice and olive oil), this transporting fish stew, and yes, that glass of rosé. And I will smile.


serves 8 people

  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
  • 2 small leeks, white parts only, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • peel of 1 orange
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2 pinches saffron threads
  • 2 1/2 pounds varied fish (branzino, dorade, monkfish, perch, sea bass, snapper, turbot), cut into large 2” pieces
  • 1 baguette, cubed and toasted
  • fleur de sel
  • Rouille (recipe follows)


1. Bring a large pot (about 2 quarts) of salted water to a boil and blanch tomatoes for 10 seconds. Using tongs, remove to an ice bath. Allow to cool, remove the skins from the tomatoes, and dice. Reserve the cooking liquid.

2. In a large pot over high heat, add the olive oil and sauté the fennel, leeks, onions and garlic with bay leaf, thyme, parsley, fennel seeds, orange zest and saffron for three to four minutes. Add the fish and diced tomatoes, then cover with some of the reserved cooking liquid and cook over high heat for five minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

3. Serve the bouillabaisse with baguette croutons and Rouille.

Fig & Olive Bouillabaisse
Photo by Harald Gottschalk.

For the Rouille:

  • 1 small potato
  • fish stock or water
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch espelette pepper (Editor’s note: substitute red pepper flakes if you don’t have these)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Peel the potato and place in a small pot. Add enough fish stock or water to cover the potato; bring to a boil. Add the saffron and cook the potato until it has absorbed all of the liquid. Let cool and reserve. Peel the garlic and crush in a mortar. Mix in the egg yolk and reserved potato, then slowly add the olive oil while whisking. Adjust the seasoning with the espelette, salt and pepper. (Editor’s note: you can also prepare the rouille in a food processor.)


Reprinted from FIG & OLIVE: The Cuisine of the French Riviera (Assouline, 2015).

More from Make It Better: