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    POACHED FISH WITH AIOLI
    from "French Farmhouse Cookbook" by Susan Hermann Loomis

    Call it la bourrido, its Provençal name, or la bourride, its French name—it's the same dish. Redolent of garlic, smooth with olive oil, this elegant but hearty combination is for real gourmands, those who love the intense pleasures in life.

    The basis of bourride is aïoli thinned with a fragrant court bouillon. The resulting sauce, here more of a soup, is traditionally poured over hake, a soft-fleshed fish that is extraordinarily tender. Hake is looked at with some disdain in the U.S., but it shouldn't be, for it is, quite simply, elegant. It cooks in an instant and yields itself willingly to the pale yellow sauce here.

    This dish is monochromatic, which is part of its charm. To give it a lift, I sometimes garnish it with brilliant blue borage flowers or orange calendula petals.

    6 servings
    INGREDIENTS (CLICK TO BUY)

    1 recipe Court Bouillon (recipe follows)
    2 pounds hake, cut into 1 1/2-inch thick steaks (see Note)
    1 recipe Aïoli: The Sauce (recipe follows)
    6 slices good-quality white bread, toasted

    Aïoli: The Sauce
    12 cloves garlic, peeled, cut in half, and green germ removed
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1 large egg yolk (see Note)
    1 1/2 cups light, fruity olive oil
    4 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
    1 tablespoon warm water, or more as needed

    Court Bouillon
    1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced
    2 imported bay leaves
    10 black peppercorns
    5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/4 teaspoon dried leaves
    1 fennel bulb (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into thin slices
    2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
    2 cups dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or an Aligote
    Zest of 1 orange, in wide strips
    6 cups water
    1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

    Print recipe
    PREPARATION

    1. Bring the court bouillon to a boil in a large skillet with sides at least 3 inches (7 1/2 cm) high. Add the fish and return to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer gently until the fish is nearly opaque through, 5 to 8 minutes.
    2. Remove the fish from the court bouillon and keep it warm, covered, in a low oven. Strain the court bouillon, reserving 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).
    3. Place the aïoli in a medium-size heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the reserved court bouillon and cook, whisking constantly and moving the pan on and off the heat if necessary, until the sauce has thickened somewhat, about 7 minutes. It should be about the consistency of light cream. Be careful not to boil the sauce, or it will curdle. When it has thickened, immediately remove the pan from the heat.
    4. To serve, place a piece of toast in each of six warmed shallow soup bowls. Top the toast with the fish, and ladle the sauce over it. Garnish with the flower blossoms or petals if desired, and serve immediately.
    Note Any white fish will do for this dish—ranging from hake to cod, monkfish, halibut, lingcod, or petrale sole. Or you can use a mixture of fishes. If you can't get steaks, use fillets and adjust the cooking time (they will cook much faster).

    Aïoli: The Sauce (About 2 cups; 500 ml)
    When making aïoli (or any mayonnaise-like sauce), think slow, slow, slow. Even if your arm feels as if it might fall off from all the whisking, keep adding the oil in a thin stream. It is your surest guarantee of success. Don't make this in a food processor, as the results will be heavier, and less enjoyable.

    Be sure that all your ingredients, and the mortar or bowl you are working with, are at room temperature. Differing temperatures can cause the aïoli to separate.

    Note There is a simple remedy for separated aïoli: Put a fresh egg yolk in another bowl, and slowly whisk the separated aïoli into it.
    1. Make a paste of the garlic and salt by working the pestle around slowly in the mortar, always in the same direction. If you don't have a mortar and pestle, you can finely mince the garlic with the salt, transfer it to a medium-size bowl, and press on it with a wooden spoon until it makes a rough paste; or simply mince the garlic and salt together in a food processor, and transfer the mixture to a medium-size bowl.
    2. Whisk in the egg yolk until it is blended with the garlic and salt. Then, very slowly, add 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the oil in a fine, fine stream, stirring with the pestle or a whisk until the mixture is very thick. If you add the oil too quickly, the mixture will not emulsify.
    3. Add the lemon juice and the warm water. Then add the remaining 1 1/4 cups (315 ml) oil, very, very slowly, whisking or turning the pestle constantly. The aïoli will gradually thicken to the consistency of a light mayonnaise. If it becomes very thick, like a commercial mayonnaise, add some more warm water, a teaspoon at a time, until it is the consistency you like. Generally, however, you shouldn't need any additional water.
    4. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if necessary. Aïoli will keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but it is best served within 24 hours of being made.
    Note This sauce includes an egg yolk that remains uncooked once the recipe is completed. Like me, you should use only the best-quality, farm-fresh egg to make the aïoli. If you are unsure of the quality of the eggs available to you, it is best to avoid recipes that include them uncooked.

    Court Bouillon (About 6 cups; 1 1/2 liters)
    A court bouillon is the ideal vehicle for poaching fish. There are as many different recipes for it as there are fish in the sea, but I like this one because it is highly aromatic and almost sweet with the flavor of fennel. It lends a fullness of flavor, an added dimension, to fish and shellfish.
    Note Make this broth when fennel is in season and freeze it for future use. Freeze it in carefully measured quantities, and even freeze some in ice cube trays so that you can have a touch to add to a sauce or soup.
    Place all the ingredients in a large heavy saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain, and refrigerate or freeze.


    Use Monkfish
    Product nutrition and information
     Quantity Ingredients Est.Price
      White Onion, Large - $1.49/lb
     Farm Fresh, Lg
     
      Fennel - $3.49/ea Save! 2 for $6.00
     Farm Fresh
     
      Garlic - $3.99/lb
     Farm Fresh, Med
     
      Neil Ellis Sincerely Sauvignon Blanc - $12.99/ea plus tax Save! Just $11.69 each when you buy 12 or more.
     750ml
     
      Navel Orange - $1.29/ea Save! 5 for $5.00
     Farm Fresh, Lg
     
      Local Wild Monkfish Fillet - $14.99/lb
     10-12oz
     
      Lemons - $0.95/ea Save! 6 for $5.40
     Farm Fresh, Med
     
      FreshDirect Oven-Ready French Baguette - $2.49/ea
     approx. 15"  
     
    You May Already Have
      FreshDirect Bay Leaves - $3.79/ea
     0.14oz
     
      FreshDirect Tellicherry Pepper, Ground - $3.79/ea
     2.25oz
     
      Thyme - $1.49/ea
     Farm Fresh
     
      Morton's Regular Salt - $0.99/ea
     26oz
     
      Nature's Yoke Natural Cage-Free Large White Eggs - $3.69/ea
     1 dozen
     
      Bel Aria Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - $11.29/ea
     34oz
     
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