Hot and Hot Fish Club, Birmingham
Hot and Hot's bouillabaisse takes elements of the traditional dish — a seafood stew that originated in the south of France — and incorporates chef Chris Hastings' Southern cooking sensibilities. While a traditional bouillabaisse is more rustic and uses whole fish, Hot and Hot's version typically features boneless pieces of white-meat fishes like grouper, cobia, snapper and triggerfish. The stew may also contain large Alabama Gulf shrimp, Apalachicola oysters, and crab, such as stone crab claws from the Florida Keys or soft-shell crab.
The seafood is cooked in a broth with saffron, fennel, basil, garlic, flat leaf parsley and a hint of orange peel. A little butter and extra-virgin olive oil give the dish richness without making it heavy. It is served with a rouille crouton — toasted bread topped with a roasted red pepper aioli.
Hastings says that the development of the recipe goes back to his childhood in the Carolinas, when he spent summers in the salt marshes catching fish, digging for clams and gathering oysters. "My uncle used to make a bad version of seafood stew," he says. "I had such fond memories of great seafood but horrible memories of the stew. This dish was created partly around my history and partly as an homage to the bouillabaisse I experienced in the south of France."