Seafood-sausage cabbage rolls and bouillabaisse — a seafood stew from Provence — might sound like an unusual combination. But it worked for Johnson County Community College student chef Brian Leeper.
The stew alone would make a hearty dish, but it acts as sauce to the seafood-sausage cabbage roll as well. Leeper came up with the recipe after competing with the college’s culinary team at a regional competition.
“A part of my appetizer at regionals was a seafood sausage, so I wanted to feature that while making it more acceptable to the everyday palate by pairing it with the bouillabaisse stew and rice,” Leeper says.
The recipe combines white fish, squid steak, scallops, shrimp and lobster along with heavy cream and fresh breadcrumbs in the food processor, turning the mixture into a smooth but firm blend.
That seafood mixture is spread evenly on cabbage leaves, using plastic wrap to roll a tight log, and finished by poaching. The plastic wrap helps hold the roll together and keeps water from coming into contact with the filling, which would dilute the flavors and affect the texture.
The key to this recipe is using fresh ingredients.
“Freshness is critical to a firm sausage,” Leeper says. “If the fish or scallops are frozen the mousseline won’t emulsify properly. As with any dish, the quality of the ingredients will show in the end result.”
Brian Leeper is a second-year student in the Johnson County Community College Chef Apprentice and Hospitality Management Program. He works as an apprentice at Merchants Pub and Plate in downtown Lawrence.
Bouillabaisse With Seafood-Sausage Cabbage Roll and Saffron Rice
Makes 4 servings
For the cabbage rolls:
8 ounces white fish fillet
1/2 of a squid steak
2 large scallops, poached
3 ounces cooked shrimp
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon garlic paste
1/2 ounce brandy
2 teaspoons fresh white breadcrumbs (not dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup minced mushrooms, sautéed
3 ounces lobster (or crawfish) meat, cooked and minced
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Small pinch of minced tarragon
4 large Napa cabbage leaves, blanched and shocked in cold water
For the saffron rice:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup white rice
Pinch of salt
2 cups vegetable stock
For the bouillabaisse:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped leek, white part only
1/8 cup fennel, finely julienned
3/4 cup tomato, skin and seeds removed, rough chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 clove crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine
Pinch of saffron
1/2 pound black mussels, scrubbed
3 cups vegetable stock
Pinch of salt and white pepper
8 ounces bay scallops
To make the cabbage roll: Chill the bowl of a food processor in the freezer.
Remove the bloodline from the center of the fish fillet with a knife and cut the fillet into small pieces. Dice the squid, scallops and shrimp. Place seafood in food processor bowl and pulse until it starts to form a paste. Add in the egg whites, garlic paste, brandy and breadcrumbs. Process to combine. Season with salt and white pepper.
While the processor is running slowly add the cream until mixture is smooth but firm. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and nest it in a bowl of ice water. Using a spatula, fold in the mushrooms, lobster meat, parsley and tarragon.
Arrange 4 blanched cabbage leaves on a large sheet of plastic wrap, slightly overlapping the edges. Spread the seafood mix onto the cabbage in a line across the bottom of the cabbage pieces. Roll into a thick log using the plastic and tighten at the ends.
Fill a 2-quart pot halfway with water and bring to a simmer. Poach the cabbage roll in until a thermometer inserted in the center registers an internal temperature of 150 degrees.
To make the saffron rice: Heat vegetable oil in a large saute pan. Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent, about 4 minutes, stirring often. Add rice and mix thoroughly, add saffron and salt, mix thoroughly, then add stock and bring to simmer and cover, turning down the temperature to the lowest setting. Allow rice to cook on the stove until done, about 17 minutes.
To make the bouillabaisse: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Cook the onion, leek, fennel, tomatoes and tomato paste in oil over low heat until they begin to soften and become aromatic. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and season with a pinch of salt. Deglaze pan with white wine, loosening the cooked bits with a spatula. Add the saffron and the mussels along with enough stock to cover; simmer 2 minutes. Add the scallops and continue to cook until mussels open.
To serve: Spoon saffron rice in bowls and ladle bouillabaisse into a bowl. Top with pieces of seafood-sausage cabbage rolls.
Per serving: 640 calories (32 percent from fat), 22 grams total fat (5 grams saturated), 187 milligrams cholesterol, 55 grams carbohydrates, 52 grams protein, 781 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber.