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What is a court-bouillon?

A court-bouillon is an aromatic liquid or stock made with everything from simple sea salt to thyme, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, onion, carrot, celery, parsley, milk, wine, lemon or vinegar.

When cooked gently in a court-bouillon, delicate foods—notably fish and other shellfish, as well as eggs, veal and chicken—absorb a hint of the liquid’s flavor. Court-bouillon is usually prepared ahead of time and cooled (and strained) before using.

Fish cooked in court-bouillon that will be served hot is removed from the liquid once cooked through; if you intend to serve your fish cold, leave it to cool in the liquid before removing and skinning. Lemon or vinegar added to court-bouillon preserves the color of salmon and turns shellfish bright red.

In some places, you can buy court-bouillon freeze-dried. But it’s pretty simple to make yourself in about 30 minutes. A court-bouillon is not served with the final preparation, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw it out. Strained, used court-bouillon can be kept refrigerated in a sterilized jar and reused or incorporated into soups and white sauces. Reusing the court-bouillon only intensifies the flavor.

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