Fish Stew with Fennel Aioli


This hymn to garlic is really a white bouillabaisse, a stew of mixed whitefish, its broth thickened and enriched with the garlic mayonnaise called, in the south of France, aioli. Correctly, aioli is just garlic mayonnaise with no other flavorings but I have taken liberties throughout the book, flavoring it with whatever seems appropriate. The best fish to use for this dish would be sea bass, cod, monkfish, conger eel, halibut, pollack, haddock, and whiting.


  • 5 pounds fish
  • 3½ quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 leeks (white part only), rinsed and sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 12 sprigs fennel
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups aioli
  • 2 cups mussels, bearded, scrubbed
  • 8 langoustines or large prawns


Fillet the fish and cut into 1½-inch cubes. Save the bones.

Put ½ cup water, the oil, onions, leeks, celery, bay leaves, thyme, and 3 sprigs of the fennel in a pot. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown. Add the fish bones, the remaining water, and the salt. Bring to a boil and skim the scum from the surface of the stock. Cook for 20 minutes and add the wine. Cook for another 15 minutes and strain.

Crush the remaining fennel in a mortar with a pestle and mix with the aioli. Put the fish in a pot. Taste the fish stock for salt and add more if necessary. Pour enough stock over the fish to cover by 1 inch. Add water if there is not enough. Bring to a boil over high heat, and add the mussels and langoustines. Cook until the mussels open and the fish is just done. Lift the fish and shellfish into a warm soup tureen. Turn off the heat and whisk 1 cup of the fennel aioli into the broth. Pour the broth over the fish and serve with the rest of the aioli.