JEAN-PIERRE MOULLÉ has been a chef at Chez Panisse for nearly thirty years.
He now spends six months as chef and the other six months in his native Bordeaux.
When he first arrived at our kitchen in 1976, he had already trained and apprenticed in France, and he brought us culinary skill and a quiet seriousness of purpose. Jean-Pierre grew up hunting, fishing, and foraging and has never lost his love for the wild gifts of the land and sea.
This is Jean-Pierre’s simple and adaptable fish soup, which is a satisfying and economical way to cook and enjoy a whole fish. First fillet the fish, and then make a stock with the bones, vegetables, and herbs. Strain the stock and gently poach the fillets in it, then serve with croutons and pungent garlicky mayonnaise.
One 2- to 3-pound whole fish (firm white-fleshed such as rockfish, snapper, and ling cod)
1 small leek, white part only, sliced and rinsed
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 small carrot, peeled and sliced
A few black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
2 or 3 thyme sprigs
A few sprigs Italian parsley
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups cold water
4 slices crusty bread
Fresh-ground black pepper
Garlic Mayonnaise (see below)
Fillet the fish, remove the skin, and refrigerate until ready to cook. Rinse the fish carcass and put it in a heavy pot. Add all the vegetables, the peppercorns, and herbs, cover with the wine and water, and add a good pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Simmer for 45 minutes, then strain the stock through a fine sieve. If you like, save some of the leek and carrot to add back to the strained stock.
Moisten the slices of bread with olive oil and toast in a 375°F oven for 10 minutes or so, until the croutons are browned and crisp. Pour the strained stock into a heavy pot and bring to a simmer. Cut the fillets into 2- to 3-inch pieces, season with salt and black pepper, and add to the stock. Poach the fish gently for 7 minutes or so, until just cooked through. Have warm soup bowls ready, and as soon as the fish is cooked, ladle the fish and stock into the bowls. Garnish with the croutons and Garlic Mayonnaise and serve. Pass more mayonnaise at the table.
Shellfish, such as small clams and mussels, washed and beards removed, can be cooked along with the fish in the strained stock.
The addition of potatoes, peeled and sliced, makes a more substantial soup.
Cook them separately in salted water and add along with the fish, or simmer in the stock before adding the fish; they will take longer to cook than the fillets.
Sweet ripe tomatoes, peeled (see page 53), seeded, and diced, make a delicious addition in the summer. A garnish of chopped tender herbs, such as parsley, chervil, marjoram, and basil adds brightness and freshness.
makes about 1 cup
2 or 3 garlic cloves
1 egg yolk
About ½ teaspoon water
1 cup olive oil
Peel and slice the garlic. Put it in a mortar along with a pinch of salt, and pound into a smooth paste.
In a medium bowl, whisk together about half the garlic, the egg yolk, and about ½ teaspoon water (adding a bit of water to the egg yolk at the outset helps to stabilize the mixture). Slowly dribble the oil into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. As the egg yolk absorbs the oil, the mixture will thicken and lighten in color. When it reaches that point, you can add the oil a little faster, still whisking continuously. If the mixture becomes very thick before all the oil is incorporated, thin with a few drops of water. Taste and add more salt and garlic, as desired. If not serving the mayonnaise right away, refrigerate it. Garlic mayonnaise will taste better after about half an hour, and it should be eaten the same day it is made.
Plain mayonnaise is made this way, but without the garlic, and finished with
a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar. It can be flavored in many ways: with
the addition of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, watercress, chervil, tarragon, or chives, chopped or pounded in a mortar; mustard; anchovies, boned and pounded or finely chopped; capers or pickles, rinsed and chopped; or finely chopped chile pepper.