Basque Seafood Stew

Hearty “bouillabasque”—Darroze’s tongue-in-cheek name for a Basque-style bouillabaisse, in which the fish is cooked separately and then added to a rich, reduced seafood-and-tomato stock—perfectly marries the culinary cornerstones of southwest France: duck fat, seafood, and armagnac. You can grill the fish on grates or a plancha, in the Spanish style, but a stovetop solution works just as well. Serve with aïoli, rouille, or any garlicky mayonnaise, along with some crusty bread.

Featured in: Biarritz and the Cuisine of the Sun

Basque Seafood Stew Basque Seafood Stew
This is a Basque take on bouillabaisse, in which the fish is cooked separately and then added to a rich, seafood and tomato stock.
Yield: serves 8
Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes


  • 14 cup plus 3 Tbsp. rendered duck fat
  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
  • Eight 6-oz. skin-on hake or black fillets, heads reserved
  • Two 1 1/2-lb. lobsters, heads and tails removed, claws reserved
  • 5 flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 14 cup armagnac
  • 12 cup white wine
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Piment d’Espelette


  1. In a large saucepan, warm 3 tablespoons duck fat over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, carrots, onions, and celery and cook until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Add the hake heads and lobster bodies along with the parsley, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until the shells turn red and the hake heads are cooked, about 10 minutes. Pour in the armagnac and cook until the armagnac has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 9 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, add the lobster claws, and cook for 1 hour. (Remove the lobster claws from the pan after 25 minutes, pick out and reserve the meat, and return the shells to the pan.)
  2. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve, and discard the solids. Return the liquid to the pan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until it has reduced to a thick sauce that coats the back of a spoon, about 40 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and keep warm.
  3. In a large skillet, warm the remaining 14 cup duck fat over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, add the hake fillets and cook, turning once, until golden brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer them to a plate and return the skillet to the heat. Add the lobster tails to the skillet and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the lobster tails to a cutting board, remove and discard the shells, and cut each tail crosswise into 4 equally-portioned medallions.
  4. Season the hake and lobster medallions with salt and piment d’Espelette. Divide the hake and lobster among 4 small, shallow bowls, and spoon the sauce over the top to serve.