Oven-Baked Vegetarian Bouillabaisse with Salicornia, Arame Tofu and Rouille

Soups & Stews, Suppen & Eintöpfe

Vegetarian Bouillabaisse with Salicornia

Uda of Mittag bei Mutti introduced two very beautiful salicornia twists the other day: Spaghetti mit Garnelen (Spaghetti with Shrimps) and Fisch mit Limetten-Bearnaise (Fish with Lime Bearnaise), each served with the small green plants that I had never eaten so far. I later learned that salicornia is a pioneer plant which settles in the intertidal zone of sea shores in Northern Europe. Once I read about it I could remember that I had seen them several times when walking along the North sea. Arne is a big fan of this region, so I wanted to make a try.

The first attempt was a little bit disappointing: I prepared home fried potatoes with shallots and scrambled eggs (the base of farmer breakfast) and added some salicornia. I had supposed that the tiny green branches have an intense taste, therefore I used only few of it. But the flavor is indeed subtle, it consists mainly of natural salt and a slight touch of the deep wide sea. We tasted close to nothing but liked a lot the consistency. So I thought about something else to make the little fellows shine.

For some reason, bouillabaisse was my choice, and I wanted to try an oven-baked version. After all, even vegetarian bouillabaisse is a heavy weight in flavor. I therefore downsized the intensity of spices a little bit and raised the amount of salicornia. It looked beautiful and tasted great in the end, and due to the fancy pioneer ingredient it was the most sophisticated south French fish soup without fish that I ever served. I added some arame tofu as well and prepared some rouille as a sidekick. Rouille is traditionally served along with bouillabaisse in Marseille and can be done with either breadcrumbs or potato (I prefer the latter).

Dear Uda, thanks a lot for the wonderful salicornia inspiration! Thanks to you we became fans of the pretty little things from somewhere between the land and the sea. I adore your idea of adding vanilla (!) to it – I will definitely try this next time.


Here’s my recipe

It’s not difficult to make a vegetarian bouillabaisse from scratch. There are some typical Mediterranean ingredients in it but you don’t need them all or you may exchange some and will get a great soup nevertheless. First of all it’s some anise flavor that makes a bouillabaisse, and you are free to take either aniseed, fennel bulb, fennel seeds or Pastis – or all of them – in order to get the taste. Second is some touch of sea. I took arame tofu and salicornia, but you can take any seaweed as well. As for the vegetables, fennel and carrots are classics, but you might also take tomatoes, bell pepper or zucchini. I love as well some potatoes in it as it adds a nice texture. You may complete the dish with some orange or lemon zest or juice (or both).

Here’s my version which – regarding the soup, not the rouille – is inspired by Virginie Besançons „Meine Sonneküche“(which translates to „My Sun cuisine“ but I’m not sure if an English version exists, I could at least not find it on the internet). Prepare the rouille first: For two servings, cook a big potato in skin, drain and peel, get through a potato squeezer twice. In a mortar, squeeze very few fresh or dried chili, a small squeezed garlic clove and some olive oil with a pestle. If you prefer the rouille for a bouillabaisse without salicornia, you might want to take more chili. With salicornia it’s better to stay more sophisticated with it because otherwise you won’t taste them any more.
Add the chili mix to the mashed potatoe. Add olive oil one by one as well as salt and pepper. The texture should be creamy in the end.

The soup: Clean and cut into nice shapes some potato, fennel and shallot (I love them all in eighth which means not to cut the ends of the shallots and the fennel so that the layers keep together). Cut a big carrot into slices. Cut some garlic cloves into fine slices. Put a few saffron strains into very few lukewarm water. Cut some arame tofu into not too small quarters.

Heat some olive oil in a deep pan or pot which can be put to the oven as well. Add the potatoes first, then fennel and carrots, next shallots, fennel seeds, laurel, garlic and few crushed chili and stir gently at medium heat. Add some salt, deglaze with few pastis and add as much vegetable stock as it needs to cover all with liquid. Add some organic lemon zest. Close the lid and put to the pre-heated oven (200 °C). Let stew for about 20 minutes (the potatoes should be soft, but not become decomposed). Add the saffron and the tofu and let stew for another ten minutes.

In the meantime, heat some olive oil in a small pan and gently stir the cleaned salicornia for a minute. You will need approximately 15-20 g per serving (which is quite a load of iodine, so eople that are iodine-sensitive should be careful). Clean and cut some chive or fennel green, parsley or basil. Roast slices of bread in the oven or in a toaster. Get the bouillabaisse out of the oven, take off the laurel, add some rouille, season to taste, add the salicornia on top and serve the dish with bread and some rouille. In France, people love to place the bread slices covered with rouille directly on the soup which is really tasty! If you prefer a crunchy version, just east the bread and the spread as a sidekick.

Today’s Berlin shots are about a closer look that Arne took at Dircksenstraße in Berlin Mitte. The place is well known among tourists and residents alike as a street art area, and Arne recently spotted some sculptures of the Danish street artist Tejn who is famous for his so called Lock On’s.

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19 thoughts on “Oven-Baked Vegetarian Bouillabaisse with Salicornia, Arame Tofu and Rouille”

  1. Ingenious! I’ll definitively try it out. Despite beeing a vegetarian I like fish occasionally. But this one I suppose tastes too good to miss the real fish. Thanks a lot!

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    • Thank you! The salicornia twist is indeed a burner even without fish, you are right, nothing too miss. I’m really happy thatI know this ingredient by now as well as it adds a more refined “fishy” taste (so to speak) than most seaweeds do.

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  2. Dear Claudia! Your re-invented Bouillabaisse looks fantastic. I’d rather call it Claudiaisse. You bring all these vegetarian delights to highlights of creative cuisine! Thanks so much!

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    • Thank you so much Uda for your warm and most enthusiastic comment! A big part of the compliment for this recipe belongs to Madame Besancon and to your great salicornia inspiration. Thank you so much for that, you made me find the perfect vegetarian “seafood” and enlarged my foody horizon like so many times before already.

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  3. Sorry, I’m late 🙂 and I just agree with Antje and Uda, fantastic stuff, the Claudiadaisse! I am going to try something with Tofuskin soonish In the book it ist used to replace chicken, but I think you could use it as fish as well! Bouillabaise has been on my mental list for quite a while, thank’s for reminding me and as always – fantastic pics (Arnes as well!).

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    • Thank you vermy much Eva! I love Arnes shots as well.
      I spotted tofu skin the other day and did not dare to buy because I had no idea what to do with it. Now you will give it a try, how great is that! Surely you will prepare a superbe treat with it – can’t wait to read your results!

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  4. Your fischless bouillabaisse looks amazing. I really love your closeup of the salicornia! Does it taste “fishy”? I’d like to try it but one of my main test-eaters doesent like (more like hates) fish.

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    • Thank you, Emma! Salicornia tastes salty and a little bit like seaweed (but it’s more refined). So it’s not really fishy, but it has a nice “sea flavor”. I could imagine that even “fish haters” might like it ;-).

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  5. Puja @ Indiaphile.info says:

    Claudia, this looks and sounds amazing! I am not sure if I can get my hands on some salicornia here in San Diego but I’m definitely going to try your bouillabaisse with sea weed. 🙂

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    • Thank’s a lot Puja! Let us know how you liked it if you give it a try. I’m sure the dish works very well with sea weed as a substitute for salicornia. But nevertheless two hints for the latter: I don’t know if this is the same situation in San Diego, but in Germany salicornia is sold in fish shops (I mention this because I first searched for it at the greengrocer because I thought: Well, it’s a plant in the end…). And I guess they are called sea beans in the U.S. rather than salicornia.

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      • Puja @ Indiaphile.info says:

        Thanks for the tip, Claudia! I’ll look for it. 🙂

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  6. I’ve seen and eaten this strange plant as entree in restaurants in Istanbul, so one day I bought some to make salad but I found it difficult to trim and it took a long time to cook. The stem parts were hard to chew, too. Maybe it was not the right season. The stems were not as green as the ones in the photo so…perhaps I will give it another try because I love the taste.

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    • I have prepared salicornia for the first time so I am far from being an expert. But the plants were soft within few minutes of roasting without any hard stems. Maybe there exist different sorts? Wish you luck for the next try!

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