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Chef Kenny Gilbert’s French Seafood Boil

I learned how to make classic bouillabaisse while working at the Ritz-Carlton. I knew I had nailed the bouillabaisse when French guests came into the kitchen after eating it to ask where to find the French chef who had made their meal. Bouillabaisse made in France tastes different than it does in any other part of the world, because of the minerals in the water and the soil. You can get close using key ingredients—Pernod [a French liqueur], fennel, and a softer chile pepper like Espelette. It’s all about a broth infused with fennel, anise, a little citrus and spice that makes an elegant, simple boil. – Chef Kenny Gilbert

Seafood Boil


2 pounds garlic heads, cloves separated 1 1⁄2 gallons water, plus 1 cup for puréeing the garlic and onions
2 medium yellow or white onions, quartered
1 liter Pernod
Juice of 14 to 16 lemons (2 cups)
4 cups ground fresh fennel
1⁄4 cup Espelette pepper
1 cup granulated shrimp base, preferably Knorr shrimp bouillon


1 pound (4 sticks) salted butter
Juice of 2 lemons (1⁄4 cup)
Juice of 2 or 3 limes (1⁄4 cup)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 10 cloves garlic, peeled (1⁄4 cup)
1⁄2 medium yellow or white onion, cut into medium dice (1⁄2 cup)
1⁄4 cup medium-diced fennel
1⁄4 cup fresh tarragon or flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon Espelette pepper 1⁄4 teaspoon xanthan gum


Boil Broth (shown above)
12 fingerling potatoes or baby potatoes
12 baby turnips, or 3 medium turnips,
cut into wedges
18 baby zucchini, or 4 standard zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound thinly sliced Parma ham
6 (1 1⁄4-pound) Maine lobsters or Caribbean lobster tails
36 large escargots, in or out of the shell
6 (4- to 5-ounce) skinless turbot or flounder fillets


Fresh tarragon leaves, for garnish Lemon wedges, for garnish

Make the Boil Broth

1. To prepare the ground garlic and onion, put the garlic cloves in a blender with 1⁄2 cup water. Purée until smooth (you should have 2 cups ground garlic). Transfer to a 3- to 5-gallon stockpot. Repeat with the onions, adding 1⁄2 cup water and puréeing in the blender until smooth, to make 2 cups ground onion. Transfer to the stockpot.

2. Add the 1 1⁄2 gallons water, Pernod, lemon juice, ground fennel, Espelette pepper and shrimp base to the stockpot and bring to a boil on high heat.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer

for 10 minutes, until very fragrant. Keep warm over low heat.

Make the Finishing Butter

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, citrus juices, soy sauce, garlic, onion, fennel, tarragon, Espelette pepper and xanthan gum. Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, until the butter is melted.

2. Purée with a handheld stick blender until smooth and emulsified. Cover to keep warm.

Make the Boil

1. Bring the boil broth to a simmer on medium heat.
2. Add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Add the turnips and cook for 10 minutes. Add the zucchini and cook for 3 minutes. Add the Parma ham and cook for 1 minute. Use a long-handled strainer or spider to transfer the potatoes, turnips, zucchini and ham to individual serving bowls. Cover with foil to keep warm.

3. Bring the broth back to a boil.
4. Add the lobster to the broth and cook for 10 minutes. Use the long-handled strainer or spider to transfer to a large bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
5. Add the escargots and cook for 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
6. Add the turbot and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter and cover with
foil to keep warm.

The Build

Serve all the items individually in their own dishes and top each with boil broth to stay moist. Garnish the bowls with tarragon and lemon wedges. Place ramekins of finishing butter on the side for dipping.

Recipe from Chef Kenny Gilbert’s Southern Cooking Global Flavors

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