Court Bouillon

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Court Bouillon a flavoured liquid intended for the cooking of eggs, vegetables, or seafood, and in use in France and elsewhere for many centuries. In modern times its use is reserved almost exclusively for seafood, especially fish. The ingredients include salt; an acid element (lemon juice, white wine, vinegar); spices (notably peppercorns); and aromatics such as onion, shallots, garlic, celery, a bouquet garni). Court bouillons prepared with wine are the most common. In early English cookery books the term is often spelled in strange ways, e.g. corbolion (May, 1685). However, there was little difference between early English recipes for the preparation and early French ones. La Varenne (Le Cuisinier françois, English translation 1653) gave several recipes for fish cooked in a court bouillon. That recommended for a perch consisted of ‘wine seasoned with all sorts of spices, such as salt, pepper, clove, peel of orange or lemon, “chibbolds”, and onions’.