All my favourite aspects of cookery find their way into this dish. There is no waste: fish skin, bones, and prawn shells all impart something to the flavour of the dish. There is slow cooking and careful extraction of tastes from the less appealing parts coupled with the immediacy and freshness of fish just cooked at the last moment.
The ingredients in the recipe are a guideline only, and it is the technique which produces the dish. The soup is quick to make and the preparation work isn’t hard.
It is a more interesting dish if you use small amounts of four or five different fish. But if you are embarrassed to make your fishmonger work for his living by weighing out several things in small amounts, it will work with only two types, so long as they are of different textures like scallops and halibut.
Bear in mind, too, that some fish cook more quickly than others. You will need to cut sea bass into smaller pieces than scallops for instance, or else put it into the stock a few moments earlier so that both will be cooked at the same time.
Use a large spoon for tasting. Soup isn’t sauce, and the seasoning and cream content are different. What tastes fine in a teaspoon isn’t necessarily good by the bowlful.
© 1990 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.