Before Chris Kronner makes this dish, he forages mussels from the nearby coast. "You have to climb down a 75-foot rock face on a rickety ladder; it's intense," he says.Plus: F&W's Fish and Seafood Cooking Guide
In a microwave*#150;safe bowl, heat 2 tablespoons of the fish stock at high power. Crumble in the saffron and let cool. In a large bowl, soften the bread in the remaining 1/4 cup of fish stock.
In a food processor, puree the soaked bread, egg yolk, piquillo, garlic and lemon juice until smooth. With the machine on, slowly pour in 1/4 cup of the oil and the saffron fish stock. Slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Season with cayenne and salt.
In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the diced fennel, onion and garlic and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, 7 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the Pernod and boil over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook, shaking the pot, until they open, 5 minutes. Pile the mussels in a bowl; discard any that don't open. Stir the butter into the broth, add the fennel fronds and parsley; season with salt. Pour the broth over the mussels and serve with the rouille.
Grilled, buttered bread.
Andrew Mariani serves a crisp California Chardonnay with the mussels and spicy rouille because the dish plays up the wine's toasty, smoky flavors.