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Patricia Yeo
rising stars
November 2002 NEW YORK
Thai Bouillabaisse with Blackfish, Mussels, Clams, and Spinach
Patricia Yeo, AZ-New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs

I have long been addicted to the aromatic broths of Southeast Asia. Red with chile, green with herbs, and scented with lemongrass, they are eaten every day, in endless variations, in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. This steamy, highly perfumed brew is my marriage of tom yum, the classic Thai soup with shrimp and mushrooms, and French bouillabaisse. In both dishes, the method of poaching fish in the spiced broth leaves it flaky, white and juicy. I'm fond of the Asian habit of stirring fresh greens into simmering soups, so I add spinach at the last minute. Leafy greens never taste as good any other way.

Sommelier Warner Strejan's Suggested Wine Pairing:
Spice Route "Flagship" Pinotage, Swartland, South Africa

4 servings

For the broth:

  • 4 cups lightly salted shellfish stock, chicken stock, or clam juice
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 green apple, peeled, cored, and roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tough ends trimmed off and discarded, smashed in a few places with the handle of a knife
  • cup sliced ginger (no need to peel it)
  • 2 jalapeno chiles, roughly chopped
  • 2 Thai bird chiles
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves or 4 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
  • 2 cups cilantro leaves
  • 2 cups mint leaves
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, or more to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To finish the dish:

  • 4 (4-5 ounce) pieces blackfish, halibut or cod
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 small clams, such as Manila or cockles
  • 2 cups spinach leaves
  • Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • Cilantro sprigs and finely shredded scallions, for garnish

Make the broth: Combine the ingredients for the broth, up to the cilantro, in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro, mint, and basil. Infuse 15 minutes. Strain the broth into a clean saucepan. Season to taste with fish sauce, lime juice, salt, and pepper. (The recipe can be made up to this point and kept refrigerated up to 2 days in advance.)

When ready to serve, heat the broth to a simmer over high heat. Add the fish, mussels, and clams and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the mussels and clams open. Stir in the spinach just until it wilts and serve, with rice or noodles in the bowl. Pour in the broth, place the shellfish on top of each bowl, and garnish with cilantro and scallions.