Making classic bouillabaisse is easier than you think, according to Jacques Haeringer, executive chef and proprietor of the legendary L'Auberge Chez François restaurant.
Clean the mussels individually under cold running water, scraping off any clinging barnacles or "beards." Discard any half-open shells or any unusually heavy ones, indicating internal grit.
Make-Ahead Tip: Prepare the broth ahead and refrigerate. Reheat the broth and cook the seafood just prior to serving.
For the Garlic Croutons:
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small saucepan that's large enough to accommodate approximately two to three bread slices, begin to melt the butter over medium-heat. Add the garlic and anise seed and cook, stirring occasionally, until the butter is completely melted.
Slice the baguette diagonally (to obtain longest possible length) into 1/2-inch to 1/3-inch thick slices.
Place each slice, lengthwise into the melted garlic butter, flip to coat the other side and place on a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until browned and crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
For the Bouquet Garni:
Wrap all of the ingredients in a cheesecloth. Reserve for use in the Broth.
For the Broth:
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the onions, leeks, celery, and carrots. Cook covered until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring often.
Add the shallots, tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, fish stock, salt and Bouquet Garni. Boil for approximately 25 minutes.
Add the saffron and simmer for 5 more minutes.
For the Bouillabaisse:
While the broth is cooking, prepare the seafood.
Bring the Broth to a boil. Add the potatoes and clams and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the mussels to the boiling broth and cook until the clams begin to open, about 3 minutes. Then add the shrimp, scallops and fish. Bring the broth back to a rolling boil until the seafood is just cooked, about 1 minute. Do not overcook the seafood.
Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning (add more garlic or saffron according to your taste), add the Pernod, chopped fennel and parsley. Serve immediately in large warm soup platters garnished with the Garlic Croutons.