Creole fish court bouillon is the recipe every cook in the Caribbean has to master.
Creole fish court bouillon is the recipe every cook in the Caribbean has to master. It’s a tomato-based, very spicy broth in which parrotfish, snappers and other colourful Caribbean fish are poached until tender. It can be made with just one type of fish, or a mix of different fish. Most cooks in the French Caribbean keep some achiote seeds in a bottle of vegetable oil to use for fish court bouillon. The seeds give the oil a subtle, peppery, nutty flavour and a warm red colour. Unrefined palm oil can be used instead; it has a reddish colour but a slightly different taste.
4 x 200g red snapper fillets, scaled and cleaned
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp sunflower oil
250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water
3tbsp unrefined palm oil
1 onion, very finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley, chopped
3 spring onions (scallions), very finely chopped
3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree (paste)
1 Scotch bonnet chilli
For the accompaniment
2 plantains, halved (still in skin)
500g yam, peeled and chopped into medium sized chunks
500g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into medium sized chunks
Combine 1 crushed garlic clove, the bay leaf, the juice of 2 limes, salt and pepper, the sunflower oil and 125ml/4fl oz/. cup water. Add all the fillets and marinate for at least 2 hours.
Heat the palm oil in a large pot over a medium heat and cook the onion, thyme sprigs, parsley, spring onions and the remaining garlic for about a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Add 125ml/4fl oz/. cup water and stir in the tomato puree. Cook for another 2 minutes.
Add the fish and marinade ensuring the sauce covers them: if not, add more water. Squeeze over the juice of the remaining lime and add the whole chilli. Cover the pot and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the chilli and bay leaf.
For the accompaniment
Place the plantains into boiling salted water and cook for 15 minutes or until the skins begin to pull away from the flesh.
Place the sweet potato and yam into boiling salted water and cook for 15-20mins or until soft.
This Court Bouillon De Poisson is taken from Vanessa Bolosier’s new book Creole Kitchen (Pavilion), publishing June 2015.