Want an effortless way to boost the flavor and nutrition of your food? Make homemade stock! Though many of us do fine making chicken or beef stock, homemade fish stock is less common.
Don’t be intimidated by the idea of making your own fish stock – it’s simple and it will be your cheapest multi-vitamin. One can argue that fish stock is the most nutritious, especially when using the fish heads which are full of iodine and supportive of the thyroid.
Stock is the flavor foundation of professional kitchens. Its extremely nutrient rich quality should make stock the foundation of your home kitchen. Simmering fish, chicken, or meat bones in water extracts numerous minerals and nutrients that have been used for healing in cultures around the world.
For a while I was lucky enough to buy freshly made stock from Motti of Gordon’s Fish Emporium until it unfortunately closed down last summer. But I asked Motti if he would come to my home and share his recipe and method.
The only bones I was able to acquire that day was salmon bones. Bones from white-fleshed non-oliy fish are preferred, but salmon bones work as well – though may be best not to cook as long as others. It’s unfortunate that most fish today show up already filleted at the markets. Even a dedicated fish market in Los Angeles left me no option of acquiring fish bones.
You may have to order fish bones in advance - or if you can get a whole fish, have the fishmonger fillet it for you and reserve the bones and fish head for stock (they freeze well). It is well worth it for both the flavor and nutrition it will add to your dishes!!
For kosher cooks - fish stock is a must. I don’t make any kind of soups without a bone broth foundation – but when you are using dairy ingredients like butter or cream, chicken and meat stocks are out of the question.
I also highly recommend using stocks for any grain preparation for enhanced digestion. Fish stocks works especially well for risottos and any other grain preparation in place of water (see my oven-baked white or brown rice as an example).
“Indeed, stock is everything in cooking. Without it, nothing can be done.” Escoffier
Homemade Fish Stock
Though non-oily white-fleshed fish bones are best, salmon bones can be used.* To use this as a poaching liquid, Motti recommends to add more lemon to “neutralize” the fishiness in poached salmon.
Bones from one fish, rinsed
4 quarts water
1 lemon cut into quarters
2 medium onions, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 tablespoons peppercorns
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
4 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 bunch parsley, stems only
Sea salt to taste
1. Place bones and lemon in a stockpot and cover with cold water.
2. Bring to a boil, skim off any foam, then lower the heat to a simmer.
3. Add onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, rosemary, and bay leaves and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Add wine and continue to simmer for 20 minutes.
5. Add parsley stems and simmer 20 minutes more.
6. Pour stock through a fine mesh strainer, use right away or refrigerate or freeze.
*Bones and heads from snapper, bass and cod can simmer for 4-6 hours (add some apple cider vinegar to extract more minerals from the bones).
Flounder and sole becomes bitter more than 20 minutes.
Oily fish like mackerel, trout, sardines, herring, and anchovies is not recommended.
Though salmon can be used, don’t cook for more than an hour or it may become bitter.