Saturday, June 16, 2012

How to Make Fish Stock

Making stock of any kind is a completely individual process, as I’ve previously written (see the Index for How to Make Beef, Pork, and Poultry Stocks). As you add ingredients to your broth, you’ll want to avoid including cruciferous vegetables with strong flavors and scents such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage - but otherwise, almost anything goes. Making stock is a matter of personal choice dictated by your likes and by what you’ve tucked away in your fridge or freezer in terms of vegetable ends, peelings, and fish frames.  
Malcolm MacMillan
Saving fish heads and frames may not be easy, unless you go fishing. Yesterday, when I visited my fish monger’s shop in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live, Malcolm McMillan was just starting to slice into a 50-lb. halibut.
Knowing that would produce a lee-tle more stock than I needed, I opted to make mine with a few salmon heads. Malcolm sells both the raw materials and the fragrant stock: Your local fish monger probably does the same. By all means, buy this stock, if that’s easiest for you!

One halibut of a fish: 50 pounds! Halibut are often far larger

If you’re fortunate enough to have a steady and ample supply of lobster, crab, crawfish, and/or shrimp in your life, save these shells separately for a very special broth, and send me your address. Expect me at your doorstep - napkin, knife, and fork in hand! To make Shellfish Stock, simply add a tablespoon of olive oil to the basic recipe below, substituting the shells of these crustaceans for the heads and fish frames in Fish Stock.

This (slightly modified) recipe comes from cookbook author Jeanelle Mitchell’s handy little book called The Love of Soup  ( Use this recipe as a guide … boost or reduce the ingredients as you wish. Example: Jeanelle uses fish frames. I prefer salmon heads. You decide!

I’m printing this Fish Stock recipe today because I have a lovely and very easy Shrimp and Fish Chowder recipe to give you, tomorrow. Served with a baguette, this Chowder makes an excellent dinner, with the leftovers becoming a delicious lunch. 

How to Make Fish Stock:

3 lb. chopped white-fleshed fish frames
12 c. cold water
2 large onions, quartered
1 leek, white and light part only, sliced
2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks (Jeanelle peels her carrots for stock; I do not)
1 small bunch fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
½ c. white wine (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large stockpot, bringing to a boil and skimming off any froth that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, 1 hr. Remove from heat, straining stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large bowl (or several smaller ones). 

Gently press the solids with a spoon to extract the liquid. Cool stock to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate stock until thoroughly chilled, at least 8 hr. Skim off layer of fat that rises to the surface. Use within 4 days or freeze and label for future use. Makes 10 cups.

Note: I add salt to my stocks, and prefer to simmer them up to 3 hr. There’s no wrong or right way to make stock. It’s what feels right for you.

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