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The Wine Guy's 30 Minute Bouillabaisse

French bouillabaisse (fish stew) varies wildly from village to village and from bistro to bistro. No two are alike and this Indiana version makes no pretense of authenticity. Unlike the French, I prefer my seafood with the heads, tails, bones and shells removed before it arrives in my bowl.

Serves 4

1/2 pound Sea Bass, Grouper or and other firm white fish, cut into 1-inch cubes
12 to 18 mussels - scrubbed and debearded, or clams if you prefer, or both
1/4 to 1/3 pound small bay scallops
1/2 pound - medium, shelled, raw shrimp, snow crab clusters are also interesting but messy
15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 large yellow onion - chopped (I use a food processor)
1 medium potato cut into 1/2" cubes
2 8-ounce bottles of clam juice
5 garlic cloves - minced
large pinch of saffron threads
kerbes de Provence - use the real thing
olive oil
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 bottle of white Rhône- 1 cup for the soup, the rest for you while cooking

Start with a medium pot, and sauté the garlic and a tablespoon of herbes de Provence in 3 tablespoons of olive oil until the oil is fragrant. Add the onion and continue to sauté until translucent. Add the can of diced tomatoes, potatoes, clam juice, a cup of wine, another tablespoon of herbes de Provence and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the saffron now, after crushing with a mortar and pestle or between two spoons.

Continue to cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add the seafood and cook until done, about 5 minutes. Feel free to add another cup of wine or water as it cooks, depending on how "brothy" you like your stew.

Serve in large bowls with plenty of crusty French bread with olive oil for dipping. Or, Linda and I like it with garlic croutons made with Private Harvest Garlic Bread Spread on bread rounds, lightly toasted under the broiler. Now, open a bottle of Red Rhône and it's almost like being in a bistro in a small French coastal town, only without the cigarette smoke and fish heads!