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I Wish I Had a Grill So I Could Make This Crazy… Stew?

It’s not technically a bouillabaisse, but you’ll still be licking the bottom of the bowl.

Gentl and Hyers

Bouillabaisse, a Provencal fish stew with origins in Marseille, includes three must-have ingredients: saffron, rouille and rascasse (red scorpion fish). This bouillabaisse, from Eric Werner’s Outdoor Kitchen includes none of them. “I probably shouldn’t even call this bouillabaisse,” Werner writes. “But the fennel, tarragon and garlic make me think of Provence, where bouillabaisse originated.”

Werner, chef and owner of Hartwood restaurant in Tulum, Mexico is known for cooking a majority of his dishes outdoors over wood fire. Even when he’s not working, Werner is an avid outdoor cook. He used his knowledge of cooking over open fires to write Outdoor Kitchen, a guide to outdoor cooking with 80 recipes. His bouillabaisse recipe, which he writes is more of a “brothy sauté than a fish stew,” was designed to be cooked over a grill, but translates just as well to the humble indoor chef — though you might miss out on that charred tomato flavor.

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Easy Bouillabaisse with Tarragon-Garlic Toasts


Serves 4

1 large tomato
1/2 small fennel bulb, with fronds attached
1/4 cup oil
1/2 white onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons tarragon leaves, chopped
6 basil leaves, chopped
4 cups fish stock
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
1/2 pound small hardshell clams, such as littleneck or Manila, scrubbed and rinsed of all sand
1/2 pound unpeeled head-on large shrimp
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless whitefish fillets, such as cod, sea bass, or snapper

Tarragon–Garlic Toasts:
6 tablespoons oil, plus more for brushing
3 tablespoons minced garlic
Generous pinch of salt
1/4 cup minced tarragon leaves
Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices French bread


1. Wipe the grill grates with oil to prevent sticking. Build a two-zone fire. Your high-heat zone should have embers 1 to 2 inches from the cooking surface, with occasional flames licking it. To create your medium-heat zone, nudge the embers 2 to 3 inches lower than that.

2. To make the bouillabaisse: Place the tomato directly in the embers until it blackens. Remove to a plate and set aside.

3. Trim root and stalks from the fennel bulb, cut into quarters, remove and discard the core, and mince. Cut the fronds from the stalks, mince and set aside.

4. Heat the oil in a deep pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and minced fennel and cook until the vegetables are soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Rub most of the burnt bits off the tomato and add to the pan, crushing with the back of a spoon. Add 2 tablespoons of the fennel fronds, the tarragon, basil, fish stock and salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil.

5. Add the clams to the pan, cover, and cook until the shells open (discard any that don’t open). Place the shrimp and fish directly on the grill, over high heat, and cook just until charred on both sides. Add to the pan, cover, and remove the pan from the heat until ready to serve (the residual heat will cook the shrimp and fish within 10 minutes).

6. To make the toasts: Heat the oil in a small cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and salt and cook until the garlic starts to turn golden brown. While the garlic cooks, toast the bread over medium heat until the slices are golden brown, with grill marks on both sides. Add the tarragon to the oil, stir well and brush the slices generously with oil. Serve immediately with the bouillabaisse.

Reprinted with permission fromThe Outdoor Kitchen by Eric Werner, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Gentl and Hyers. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc.

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Tyler Chin is Gear Patrol’s Associate Staff Writer.
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