One very awkward englishman, boldly goes…

Posts tagged “fish

Englishman attempts Marseille fish soup

So, after finally having a day off with decent weather (no wind!) I decided to take a little fishing trip out on my kayak to fish for the classic rock fish, which frequent the coastline of Marseille and form the basis of the famous Marseille soupe de poisson.

I managed to get a rough idea of the recipe from several friends and members of my girlfriends family to give it a shot, so having gathered the other ingredients together I went about giving it my first attempt.

Firstly, I sweated 3 cloves of roughly shopped garlic and 2 chopped onions with some olive oil for around 20 mins. I also added a small amount of chopped ginger because I love it, but I couldn’t taste it in the final soup so I won’t bother again!

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Next I added 5 roughly chopped tomatoes with the seeds removed, roughly chopped red pepper, bouquet garni and sweated some more, before I seasoned with salt and pepper and added 1.5 litres of water. This is supposed to be sea water, but I’m not sure that is very hygienic when you see half of what seems to floating around in there at present!

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I simmered this on a low heat for another 25 mins.

I had managed to fish a variety of species that are perfect for the soup. The only species I was unable to catch which would have been perfect is the infamous Rascasse, but they are very difficult to catch.

From left to right… Sarran, Sarran royal, Sar, Pataclet, Girelle royal, Girelle, crénilabre & Roucaou.

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I added the fish whole to the soup, except for the slightly larger once which I emptied and added. I then cooked this on a low heat for 25 mins, stirring occasionally until the fish had broken down in the stew. I then added Saffron and seasoned again.

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I then filtered into a bowl, making sure to press down hard on the fish and veg solids to extract all the juice.

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We tried the soup last night with Rouille covered croutons floating in the top. It was pretty good, but I might have to do a bit more research for next time, in order to get a stronger flavour from the soup. It feels like I’m missing something…

Here are a few photos taken from out on the fishing trip. The islands I was fishing close to are the two just off the tip of Endoume. One is called Degaby (with the small castle on top) and the other is just the isle of Endoume.

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Englishman is besieged by Le Mistral, and other minor events…

A little round-up of recent events…

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Ok, so Le Mistral is currently battering our house making it very difficult to sleep at night due to the foroscious noise. For those not in the know, Le Mistral is the strong Provencal wind which travels from the North towards the South out across the Mediterranean sea. Myth has it that a Mistral will last for 3 days, and if it doesn’t stop after 3 days then it will rage for another 3. So far this seems very accurate! The strangest thing about this wind is its ability to switch on like a light. All was calm when we went to bed last night, but during the night all of sudden we were woken up to all hell breaking loose, as plant pots, wind chimes and out-door furniture went crashing about as the Mistral commenced. It was a case of my fiancé making a quick dash to the window boxes to bring in the plant pots before any damage was done!

The great thing about the Mistral however is that it clears the sky of all cloud, as the picture below demonstrates…

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So the week before last I was invited by an old University friend to a concert at Le Dome. She is currently touring the world with the Australian Pink Floyd, and this date in Marseille was part of a massive arena tour of France and the rest of Europe. Le Dome is the largest indoor events venue situated in Saint-Just in the 4e Arrondissement and seems almost like a mini arena, similar to the Birmingham NIA.

I took a few friends along, and we made our way to the VIP section, behind the sound desk. I had heard a lot about how bad the sound quality is in the Dome, but we had a great position and I thought the sound quality was generally great. The show itself was very impressive, with an incredible light show and all manner of stage tricks and visuals to bring the Floyd back-catologue to life.

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After the concert we attended the ‘after party’ for a short while. It is a long time since I toured with my old band, but it still amazes me how unglamorous venues and festivals are backstage. I found it hard to imagine recent performers such as Beyoncé and Rihanna pigging out on peanuts and lounging on the plastic chairs in the rather empty and bland backstage lounge. Maybe Monster Munch is more their thing? Who know… Anyways, it was good to catch up with an old friend for a short while before we departed into the chilly Marseilles night.

For much of last week we had a lot better weather, and the temperature hovered around 18 – 20 degrees with a tiny breeze. We were invited over for our first BBQ of the year (In Februay!?!) at the mother of my fiancé in the Blancarde area of the City. I thought this might be a perfect time to buy some fresh fish from the famous Marseille fish market on the Vieux Port. I am slowly getting a lot better at identifying the various strange and wonderful species of fish we have down here, so I felt confident I might be able to order something suitable for the BBQ!

Once I got down there I hovered around the various stalls in amongst the fish lovers and bemused tourists for a good 15 minutes. I desperately tried to suss out which fish I wanted, the name in French, how many I wanted and how much I would need to pay by listening to other people ordering. At last I plucked up the courage and asked one gruff-spoken, leather skinned Marseilles fisherman for some Dorade Sar, or small Sea Bream. There are many different varieties of Sea Bream in the mediterranean, the most highly prized being the Dorade Royal or Guilthead Bream in English. Unfortunately all the stalls were fresh out of Dorade Royal, so I felt the Sar could work well on the BBQ. I thought 15 Euros seem to be the amount many other people were paying so I plumped for the same. I soon started to worry as the man filled a bag with these fish, 10 in all before handing it over for the cash. I walked home feeling a bit silly that I had ordered so many fish, and that I would be eating Sar for the next 2 weeks solid!

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One final thought before I go…

One of the things that I have been having a lot of problems with lately is when you have English words, phrases or names within everyday French speech. I have been working very hard on my French accent, but when it comes to pronouncing anything in English I always revert back to my English native speaking accent. This inevitably leads to me having to repeat what I have just said again, as the person I’m talking to hasn’t got a clue what I just said. Take asking for a packet of cigarettes for instance. I have now worked out that I need to say the English word, phrase or name with a fake French accent in order to be understood.

Rather strange if you think about it… On y va!


Free day

Had a free day today, so did a spot of fishing from the rocks new my apartment. No idea what the fish were called, or if they were edible so all were returned alive.

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