I have a deep appreciation for the flavors, technique and attitude that Korean cooks take with their cuisine. The flavors of Korea have made their way around the world and have been brought to a modern and elevated place thanks to innovative chefs like David Chang of Momofuku. I wanted to see the origins of these flavors and after visiting Korea, I understand the time and care it takes to make important ingredients like kimchi and gochujang. This dish is inspired by the women who taught me how to make these staples of Korean food and even though we can now buy ready-made kimchi and gochujang easily I will never open a container of these ingredients without being mindful of the time it takes to produce them and their important place in Korea’s cuisine.
Heat a medium sized pot over medium heat with vegetable oil. Add the fennel, leeks, garlic and saffron and sweat until tender. Add the chopped tomatoes and Gochujang and cook down until most of the water is cooked out. Add the Pernod and cook down for 2-3 minutes to cook off the alcohol. Pour in the chicken stock and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Add the diced potatoes and shrimp to the pot. Turn off the heat and let the shrimp finish cooking in the hot liquid.
To serve, lay out 4 bowls. Spoon the vegetables on the bottom of the bowls. Arrange the shrimp in a circle on top of the vegetables. Garnish the top of the bouillabaisse with a crouton that is spread with aioli and the reserved fennel fronds.
Bring about 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Spoon out 2 teaspoons of the water and pour over the saffron threads to “bloom”. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, saffron water and garlic paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for up to three days.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 heads fennel, fronds removed (reserve a few for garnish) and small diced
3 leeks, sliced, then washed
2 heads garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon saffron threads
2 medium tomatoes; peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 tablespoons Gochujang
½ cup Pernod
2 quarts chicken stock
2 Yukon gold potatoes; boiled whole, peeled, and medium diced
2 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ small baguette, sliced and toasted
4 tablespoons aioli (see recipe)
1 cup mayonnaise
½ teaspoon saffron threads
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste
Fine sea salt and freshly ground white pepper