The original bouillabaisse (bouï abaisso in Provençal) was from the Calanque coast between Marseilles and Toulon, although it is said to be invented at Saint-Raphaël. Although called a soup, this is really a main dish, a full meal in itself./Bouillabaisse was based on local fish, usually those unsold at the daily market, with other local shellfish added. Bouillabaisse was a "fisherman's" dish, and never contained any expensive ingredients such as lobster, although the common small green crabs were often used./Bouillabaisse has many regional variations based on the different local fish, and the color can change from place to place because of the types of fish used.
Scale and clean the fish, and rinse the crabs in cold water. Separate out the small fish and the crabs for the base part, and the larger fish for the bouillabaisse part. Then divide those for bouillabaisse part into the firm-fleshed fish and the softer (hog fish and conger).
Prepare the Base Part: 1. Into a large stew pot put: the small rock fish, cut into chunks; the crabs; tomatoes, cleaned and diced leeks; sliced onions; chopped garlic; 2 tablespoons olive oil; the tied bouquet of herbs.
Warm on low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 16 cups boiling water and let simmer for 30 minutes, adding salt and pepper.
Prepare the Bouillabaisse Part: 1. In a large frying pan on a medium-low flame, put: the hard-fleshed fish and (optionally) the potatoes, sliced.
Remove the bouquet of herbs from the base part, and pour the base part through a sieve into the pan, forcing through the sieve as required.
Add in the olive oil and saffron. If necessary, add some boiling water to ensure that the fish are in a good bed of liquid.
Turn the heat up high and boil for 12 minutes.
Add the soft-flesh fish and boil for another 6 minutes, then remove from the heat.
While the bouillabaisse is bubbling, prepare the "rouille".
Serving:1. Remove the large fish and cigales (sliced in two lengthwise) and put on a platter for self-serving.
Smear rouille onto slices of bread. Serve the bread-and-rouille and potatoes (optional) into bowls, and pour in the bouillabaisse broth.