7 Classic French Seafood Dishes

7 Classic French Seafood Dishes

From the rugged shores of Brittany to the sun-soaked Mediterranean, France has a culinary love affair with the sea that has led to a cuisine and a scene that includes classic delicacies like Moules à la marinière and Sole Meunière.

Despite the abundance of seafood delicacies in France, we’ve pulled together seven French seafood dishes that you should try. These are, in our humble opinion, your essential dishes. The type that, should they not pass your lips, your stomach and your life will be all the poorer for it.

So, whether you’re a seafood lover or just curious, pull up a virtual chair and join us at this culinary feast as we talk you through some mouthwatering classics that you must try.

7 Classic French Seafood Dishes You Should Try

1. Seafood Bisque

Seafood bisque is a delicious, creamy soup that probably originated from French coastal regions where shellfish were available. Most bisques contain scallops and mussels, but you also find some recipes with squid.

Making seafood bisque begins with crafting the flavourful base. You start by roasting shellfish shells in the oven with traditional French ingredients, such as onion, garlic, and celery. Next, you put the shells and vegetables into white wine stock with herbs (such as bay leaf and thyme) to intensify the flavours.

After that comes the body of the bisque – the sautéed carrots, chopped onions and celery, usually cooked in butter. Cook these until the vegetables become soft.

After the stock has simmered for 30 minutes, drain it, removing the shells and aromatic vegetables in a sieve. Then, add the stock to the sautéed vegetable before adding the cream and pan-fried shellfish to the bubbling pot. Finally, use an immersion blender to create a silky smooth texture before serving.

Don’t fancy making a Bisque? Check out our range of French Bisque’s online.

2. Soupe de Poisson Bretonne

Soupe de Poisson Bretonne is another heart-warming seafood-based dish perfect for cold weather. It chiefly relies on rockfish like conger eel and gurnard, plus tomato.

To make soupe de poisson Bretonne, you need fish, chicken broth, thyme, a bay leaf, dry white wine, and various aromatic vegetables, such as carrot, onion, garlic and leek.

Soup cooking begins with frying the vegetables in a pan over medium heat until softened. Next, add the crushed tomatoes (if using) and simmer for a further fifteen minutes or so. Finally, put the fish in the pot to cook with the spices for another five minutes before adding the white wine and parsley to the finished dish.

3. Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a dinner party soup that uses sea bass, halibut, haddock, cod, conger, red porgy, or red mullet. Traditionally, it was a fisherman’s soup made using fillets they couldn’t sell at the market, eaten with chunky toasted baguette-style bread.

The classic way to make bouillabaisse is to start with the base. To make this “sauce rouille,” add hot fish stock or clam broth to a blender with garlic, hot peppers, oil, salt and bread, blending until smooth. Next, cook the leeks, onions and fennel until soft before adding the garlic, tomatoes, salt, bay leaf, thyme, and (sometimes) orange zest. After that, add the fish with two cups of water and bring it to a boil. Some chefs like to add shellfish at the end, simmering for a few minutes more before seasoning with salt and pepper and serving.

Dive into our range of authentic French Seafood Soups!

4. Colin à la Bordelaise

Colin à la Bordelaise, also called Bordeaux-style hake, is a traditional dish from – you guessed it – Bordeaux. It’s essentially a breaded fish dish made to discerning French standards.

The ingredients are simple: hake, breadcrumbs, garlic, shallots, white wine, butter, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. To make the dish, fry the garlic and chopped shallots in butter. Then, add the rest of the ingredients to create the breading mix. Finally, you top the fish with the mixture, drizzle a little olive oil on it and place it on an oven dish, baking it until cooked. The resulting dish is a mixture of crispy breadcrumbs and tender fish beneath.

5. Bourride

Bourride is a fish, seafood and vegetable dish from regional Provence and Languedoc. It’s a variant of bouillabaisse that uses local ingredients and methods to produce the perfect fish.

To make bourride, you usually start with an assortment of sea bass, monkfish and cod (but you don’t have to). The remaining ingredients are almost identical to bouillabaisse – leek, onion, garlic, orange zest, bay leaf, thyme, tomatoes, and stock. The main addition is the aioli, a garlic mayonnaise.

Start by heating the oil in the pan and adding the onion, leek, fennel, garlic and orange zest, being careful not to burn them. Next, add the tomatoes, saffron, bay leaf, thyme, stock, and salt and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the stock is cooking, cut the fish into bite-sized pieces and add them to a simmering pan of olive oil. When cooked, carefully remove and keep them in a warm serving dish.

Pour the stock mixture through a sieve into a bowl, squeezing out as much goodness as possible. Then, add the aioli and whisk together before pouring the resulting sauce over the cooked fish and adding some croutons, parsley, or harissa.

6. Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Coquilles Saint-Jacques is a dish using the St James escallop, originating from France’s northeast Atlantic coast. It comprises two parts: the scallop and the sauce.

Start by cooking the scallops with butter, salt and pepper in a pan for a couple of minutes on each side. Then, set them aside and make the sauce in the same skillet, adding butter, onion, mushrooms and black pepper on high heat until golden. After that, pour white wine into the pan, cook for a minute, and stir in the heavy cream, Gruyère cheese, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and parsley.

Finally, place the cooked scallops in their shells, pour over the sauce, and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Et, voila!

7. Moules Farcies

Moules farcies is a stuffed mussels dish popular at parties and special events. You start with a pound and a half of mussel, a sliced shallot, fresh chopped parsley, and white wine. Then, add these ingredients to a pan, bring to a boil, and season with pepper. Keep stirring until the mussels are wide open and cooked.

While the mussels are cooking, make the stuffing. Peel and chop the garlic and shallots, then add them to a food processing along with soft butter, chopped parsley, garlic, salt, ground pepper, Espelette pepper, and almond powder. Blend until fine and lump-free.

Once the mussels finish cooking, arrange them in empty shells face up on a baking tray. Fill each shell with a mussel and scoop of butter, and then dip each of them in the breadcrumbs to create the topping. Bake until the butter melts and the breadcrumbs are crispy before serving.

Bon Appetit

So there you have it: seven classic French seafood dishes. With its extensive coastline and rich heritage in fishing, France is a treasure trove of delicious seafood, and in this post, we’ve rounded up some of the best. We’ve got everything from warm and tasty soups to soft and flaky fish dishes for you to get stuck into. So roll up your sleeves, grab a fork and dive into the culinary delights of French cuisine.

If you’re looking for some more French food inspiration, then why not check out our posts on the best accompaniments to serve with caviar and the best ways to serve foie gras.