I am not a big sports fan. When a game comes on the television, I usually find something else to do to keep myself busy. But I do read and watch enough of the game to be able to hold a conversation. And I know this Super Bowl Sunday cannot be reckoned with. Everyone who has a love of football will be watching on this day.
Over the past 30-plus years, Super Bowl Sunday has become one of the biggest days of the year in America. It is consistently the most-viewed event on TV each year and is runner-up to Thanksgiving for food consumption on a single day.
Since the Superdome in New Orleans is the site of Sunday's game, why not leave the chicken wings, celery sticks and dip for another occasion? Let's go with a New Orleans-inspired dish of Bouillabaisse and Mediterranean Fish Soup.
Makes: 10-12 servings
1 pound skinless snapper fillets
1 pound skinless grouper fillets
3/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled
1 pint standard oysters, undrained
1 pound backfin crabmeat
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon pressed garlic
5 cups water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Remove any shell or cartilage from crabmeat. Cut fish into serving size portions. In large pot or Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil and olive oil over medium heat. Blend in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until light brown. Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook until tender. Gradually stir in water. Add wine, tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice, bay leaf, salt and cayenne. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Add fish and simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Add shrimp, oysters and crabmeat and simmer until shrimp and oysters are done, about 10 minutes.
Source: "Mariner's Menu, 30 Years of Fresh Seafood Ideas" by Joyce Taylor
MEDITERRANEAN FISH SOUP
Makes: 8-10 servings
3 pounds white fish such as whiting, bass, red snapper, perch, haddock, flounder or monkfish
2 pounds rich fish, such as eel or mackerel
2 quarts Simple Fish Stock
2 large Dungeness crabs or 6 to 10 small blue crabs
1 large spiny lobster or 8 to 10 small lobster tails
cup olive oil
2 medium onions, sliced
White part of leek, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bouquet garni
Thin strip of orange peel
2 sprigs fresh fennel or 1 teaspoon dried fennel
1/4 teaspoon saffron
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon anise liqueur, such as Pernod or Pastis
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Cut fish in 2- to 3-inch chunks, reserving heads and tails for Simple Fish Stock. Prepare Simple Fish Stock.
With a cleaver, chop large crabs and spiny lobster in pieces, shells included. Discard head sac and intestinal veins of lobster and spongy finger-like gills of crabs.
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Stir in onions, leeks and celery. Saute until soft but not browned. Add Simple Fish Stock, tomatoes, garlic, bouquet garni, orange peel and fennel. Sprinkle saffron, salt and pepper over mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 30 to 45 minutes. Bring uncovered soup broth to a boil 20 minutes before serving. Add rich fish and shellfish. Boil 7 minutes. Do not stir but shake pot occasionally to prevent sticking.
Lay white fish on top of mixture and boil 5 to 8 minutes longer until fish begins to flake easily. If necessary, add water to just cover fish. Keep liquid at a rolling boil during entire cooking time so oil emulsifies with broth and does not float on surface. Remove from heat. Transfer fish to a warm platter arranging each kind separately. Cover with foil; keep warm. Whisk tomato paste and anise liqueur into hot broth. Taste for seasoning. Pour into tureen. Sprinkle broth and fish pieces with parsley. Serve immediately. Take fish and spoon broth over it.
Mediterranean Fish Soup can be served as 2 separate courses of soup and fish.
Source: LaVarenne's Basic French Cooking, 1980
SIMPLE FISH STOCK
Reserved fish heads and tails
2 to 2 1/2 quarts water
Place reserved fish heads and tails in a large saucepan. Barely cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Strain.
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at email@example.com.