Fish Head Fascination
As I mentioned here, an amazing number of my readers are fascinated with fish heads. Why this should be true I do not know, but their attraction to the foremost parts of fish is rubbing off on me.
Since we’re having guests from Seattle this week, I thought I’d make a nice soupe au poisson to welcome them. It’s soothing, goes well with jet lag, and is very typical of the area. The fish lady gave me a different assortment today, including the water bug-thingies pictured above. The market was so crowded that I totally forgot to ask her what they’re called. Does anyone recognise them?
Walking home after fighting our way through the Easter weekend market crowd it suddenly struck me: one of our guests is deathly allergic to fish. Merde, alors, there I was on the sidewalk with 3 kilos of assorted fish and water bugs and no one to feed them to. Do you happen to be free for dinner tonight?
In the end I put them in the pot, and will soon begin the truly arduous work of putting all those fish solids through the three successive layers of the food mill, from whence it’ll go into the freezer to await a more propitious moment for serving. Let it never be said that I threatened the life of a fish-allergic friend or let the life of a water bug go to waste.
If you’re inclined to follow me down the fish head highway, this is the basic recipe the fish lady gave me.
The thing I do a bit differently is to add a little fennel to the vegetables in the beginning and a splash of pastis to the finished soup. If I want it a little richer I beat a couple of egg yolks with a spoonful or two of crème fraîche and stir that in at the last minute. To do as the locals do, serve the soup in a flat bowl with a flotilla of rouille-covered croutons and a handful of grated cheese, preferably a Comté. Yes, I know that the Italians say never to mix fish and cheese, but try this, it’s very good.
And honestly, don’t you think fish heads are beautiful?