Cold Comfort : Bouillabaisse: Some Like It Cold : Fish soup: This chilly version is molded like a salad.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It's never too hot for bouillabaisse. When the temperature gets out of hand, you simply eat it cold. The idea comes from Michael Hutchings of Michael's Waterside in Santa Barbara, who makes a chilly version that is molded like a salad.

Hutching's soup is not for quick-and-easy cooks. The procedures aren't difficult, but they require time and patience. An expert like Hutchings can prepare a rich fish aspic that sets naturally or with a little help from leaf gelatin, which most of us can't obtain. We've taken the frustration out of that step by adding enough ordinary gelatin to guarantee a perfect result.

Hutchings sets off the mold with a vibrant tomato relish seasoned with licorice-tasting fennel. An infusion of saffron and white wine finishes off the rouille, the mayonnaise-like sauce that traditionally accompanies bouillabaisse along with crisp slices of French bread.

WATERSIDE BOUILLABAISSE

1 pound salmon fillet

1 pound white sea bass

1 pound snapper fillet

1 pound choice of other fresh fish

1 cup julienned carrots

1 cup julienned leek

1 cup julienned fennel

2 1/2 quarts Fish Gelee

30 shrimp

30 medium black mussels

2 tablespoons lightly chopped fennel fronds

Tomato Relish

Sauce Rouille

Lightly toasted sliced French bread

Cut salmon, sea bass, snapper and selected fresh fish into 2-ounce portions. Steam each fish until just done, 3 to 6 minutes. Chill until completely cold. Blanch carrots, leek and fennel in salted water until crisp-tender. Drain and chill.

Place layer of melted Fish Gelee in bottom of 3-quart bowl. Refrigerate until set. Arrange some of shrimp, mussels and fennel fronds in attractive pattern that will show when bouillabaisse is unmolded. Add another layer of gelee and chill until firm. Continue layering fish, shrimp, mussels, fennel, julienned vegetables and gelee until bowl is filled. Chill several hours or overnight.

To serve, invert bowl on large chilled platter. Place hot cloth on bowl to release gelee, then remove bowl. Garnish with Tomato Relish. Pass Sauce Rouille and French bread. Makes 10 servings.

Fish Gelee

1/2 pound sea bass trimmings

1 stalk celery

1 carrot

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 cup egg whites

1 sprig basil

Dash saffron

2 strips orange zest

2 1/2 quarts Basic Fish Fumet

Salt

7 envelopes unflavored gelatine

Put sea bass, celery, carrot and onion in food processor until coarsely chopped. Add egg whites, basil, saffron and orange zest. Set aside 2 cups cooled Basic Fish Fumet. Combine chopped mixture with remaining fish fumet in large heavy bottomed saucepan.

Season to taste with salt. Heat to slow boil. Reduce heat to slow simmer and cook at edge of burner 45 minutes. Skim as needed. Liquid should be clear. Carefully strain through cheesecloth. Soften gelatin in reserved fish fumet, then heat until dissolved. Stir into strained mixture. Makes 2 1/2 quarts.

Basic Fish Fumet

3 pounds fish bones (turbot, Dover sole, halibut or sea bass)

1/4 cup butter

1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced

1/2 white onion, sliced

2 inner white stalks celery, sliced

3 quarts water

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 sprig thyme

1/2 medium bay leaf

2 parsley stems

1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns

1/2 bottle dry vermouth

Remove gills, eyes and any bloody portions inside fish pieces. Place in large container, cover with water and soak at least 1 hour or overnight in refrigerator.

Melt butter in heavy bottomed 6-quart stock pot. Add leek, onion and celery and cook, covered, until tender and transparent. Drain fish bones, chop in chunks and add to pot. Cook until no longer transparent. Add cold water, bring to boil and allow to boil vigorously. Skim off all foam until clear.

Add garlic, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, peppercorns and vermouth. Reduce heat to medium simmer. Cook 20 to 30 minutes, skimming as needed. Strain by carefully ladling through fine sieve or tea towel. Makes about 3 quarts.

Tomato Relish

1 1/2 cups diced seeded firm ripe tomato

1 (1/2-ounce) package basil, sliced in thin strips

1 tablespoon chopped shallots

6 cloves garlic, peeled, blanched and thinly sliced

1 teaspoon julienned orange zest, blanched

1/2 teaspoon minced fennel fronds

1/4 cup olive oil

Salt

White pepper

Combine tomato, basil, shallots, garlic, orange zest, fennel and olive oil and season to taste with salt and white pepper. Chill at least 30 minutes. Makes scant 2 cups.

Sauce Rouille

1 1/2 hard-cooked egg yolks

2 anchovy fillets, soaked in milk

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 raw egg yolk

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup virgin olive oil

Few drops hot pepper sauce

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine

Dash saffron threads (about 12)

Salt

White pepper

Place hard-cooked egg yolks, anchovy fillets, garlic and tomato paste in blender and puree. Add raw egg yolks and mustard and blend. Add oil very slowly with blender running on low.

Combine wine and saffron in small skillet. Bring to boil. When oil is incorporated, add hot pepper sauce, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon saffron infusion. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

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