A leftover seafood bisque

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What do you do when you have tons of leftover seafood in your fridge? If you’re Haitian, you definitely mix them all together, put them in a blender as is – that is bone-in and shell on – and whip up a bowl of deliciousness!

Yes, you read right. You don’t discard anything!

In Haiti, leftovers are gold, especially on Saturdays. We use them to prepare what we call bouillon. A bouillon can be described as a clear soup made with vegetable chunks and whatever leftover meats you can find in your fridge. It’s our way of cleaning out the fridge, and of feeding an entire family on a budget.

While I am not particularly fond of the traditional bouillon, the above-pictured dish ranks high on my list of favorites. Seafood-based, it follows the same principles of a bouillon with the only difference that all the ingredients are blended and pureed so as to make what we call potage in Haiti, a word my New Orleans friend translated to as seafood bisque.

I first learned to prepare this savory “potage” seafood bisque on that famous Mardi Gras day 2016. That day, seven women of the family had taken over one single kitchen. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while – and if your memory is good – you probably recall that exciting day. We had set out to finally try our hands at making mèchi, those Middle-Eastern inspired cabbage rolls I describe in my Cabbage, Mèchi and 7 Cooks article.

Since we had also invited a crowd of hungry family members to partake in our feast, we had expanded our menu offerings. They included a tabouleh and a pot of simmering seafood bisque among other things.

Our Haitian seafood bisque is made of a strained broth of seafood and pureed potatoes, leeks, and carrots, which we use as a base to thicken the broth. The choice of fresh or leftover fish or crustacean is really up to the cook.

Personally, I think leftovers make for a wonderful mix of flavors, especially if combining different dishes prepared on separate occasions. The result is a mix of unplanned flavors that make for a savory bisque that is also easy on the wallet.

This certainly does not mean that you shouldn’t prepare a seafood potage if you don’t have leftovers. You can still enjoy a potage made with the fresh seafood of your choice. The only thing is this will lengthen the preparation time. You will have to season and cook your seafood selection first.

Regardless of your choice, do not discard the fish bones or crustacean shells. As I mentioned before, you should definitely add them to the blender. They will enhance the flavors of your broth, which you will strain before simmering what will be your bisque.

With that said, I leave you below the steps to creating your own seafood bisque. As with most Haitian dishes, you should definitely adapt it to your palate. Use that recipe as a starting point. Better yet, use it as an inspiration to prepare your Haitian-style seafood potage with unique flavors.

The seafood bisque pictured above was not prepared on that Mardi-Gras day. It however followed the same principle, with the only difference that we turned it into a velouté by adding some cream towards the end.

The steps below also assume that you’re using leftover seafood, and thus skip the seasoning and cooking steps.

As usual, there are no proportions. To master this recipe, I invite you to embrace the Haitian culinary culture and use your taste buds as your guide.

Ingredients

  • Cooked Fish (bone in)
  • Cooked Crustacean with shells (optional)
  • Water
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Carrots
  • Garlic (to taste)
  • Piman bouc (optional)
  • Cream (optional)
  • Lime wedges

Instructions

  1. Wash, peel and dice your vegetables
  2. Cover them with water and cook thoroughly
  3. Meanwhile, prepare your broth
  4. Cover your seafood with water and bring to a boil
  5. Transfer to a blender and strain
  6. Set your broth aside
  7. Once your vegetables are fully cooked, puree them in your blender
  8. Incorporate your seafood broth and bring back to a boil
  9. Adjust your seasoning to taste and simmer until your broth thickens up
  10. Add your cream and mix thoroughly
  11. Serve hot with some fresh lime slices and some piman bouc on the side.

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