Monday, March 28, 2011

Traditon with Cooking: How to make fresh fish stock at home

Knowing how to make good stocks is essential for the home cook. Stocks are the base to many dishes and can add an amazing amount of flavor to the simplest recipe. Going past flavor, the nutritional properties of stock are extremely beneficial to the body and should be incorporated into the diet as often as possible. The pre-made stock at the grocery store is not the same, nutritionally speaking or for flavor for that matter, as the stock you can make at home. Plus, it's far less expensive to make stock in your own kitchen.
Fish stock, made from the carcasses and heads of fish, is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Even more important, stock made from the heads, and therefore the thyroid glands of the fish, supplies thyroid hormones and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland. Four thousand years ago, Chinese doctors rejuvenated aging patients with a soup made from the thyroid glands of animals. According to ancient texts, this treatment helped patients feel younger, gave them more energy and often restored mental abilities. During the reign of Queen Victoria, prominent London physicians prescribed special raw thyroid sandwiches to failing patients. Very few of us could eat such fare with relish, but soups and sauces made from fish broth are absolutely delicious -- a remedy that no convalescent could refuse. According to some researchers, at least 40 percent of all Americans suffer from a deficiency of the thyroid gland with its accompanying symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, frequent golds and flue, inability to concentrate, depression and a hots of more serious complications like heart disease and cancer. We could do well do imitate our brothers from the Mediterranean and Asian regions by including fish broth in the diet as often as possible.
~ Sally Fallon Morell and Mary G. Enig share in Nourishing Traditions
When it comes to fish stock, unless you live on the coast or have easy access to affordable whole fish, I'd venture that most of us don't tend to purchase whole fish and don't have left over fish carcass. Instead the ever so popular fillets tend to make their appearance on our dinner plates. However, if you are like me and still desire to make a fresh fish stock its time to speak up and get acquainted with your local fishmonger. For those of us who live in the Twin Cities, Coastal Seafood is a great place to check out. Not only do they have an amazing selection of fish, honestly you might be shocked at the variety, you can also purchase fish carcasses from them for a very reasonable price. I was able to get mine for $1.50 a pound I believe. It's always a good idea to give them a call ahead of time to make sure they have carcasses on hand and see if they can save you some.

I've decide to share with you the recipe for fish stock from Nourishing Traditions. To be honest, I typically don't follow a strict recipe when making stock, but I'm pretty sure a recipe that says a little bit of this and a couple of these isn't going to be overly popular. :)  From all the fish stock recipes I've looked at, most were very similar. This particular recipe includes vinegar, in addition to wine, to further help the break down of the bones drawing out the essential minerals. Don't worry about a vinegar flavor, there won't be any when the stock is finished. If possible, always make plenty of extra and store in your freezer, so you can easily have it on hand when you need it.

What You'll Need
2 tbsp. organic butter
2 organic onions, coarsely chopped
1 organic carrot, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
3 - 4 whole fish carcasses, including head, of a non-oily fish like sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
1/4 cup vinegar
approx. 3 quarts cold filter water
several sprigs of fresh thyme
several sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf

Getting Started  
1. Melt your butter in the bottom of a large, stainless steal pot that has a lid. Toss in your onions and carrot and cook for about a half hour until they are soft. 

2. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Then add the fish and vinegar and cover with the cold filter water. Bring liquid to a boil and skim off any scum that rises to the top. Tie the herbs together and add them to the pot.

3. Reduce the heat, cover and allow to gently simmer for 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

4. Either strain the stock or remove the bones, vegetables and herbs. Allow to cool thoroughly, then place in fridge. Once it's chilled, remove any congealed fat and then freeze extra stock as desired.

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  1. Hi had no idea about the beneifts of eating fish stock. I love making fish stew, and now I'm even more eager to get my pots boiling. Thank you for sharing with me...and for your kind words...they mean more to me than I can express. I hope you have a blessed week.

  2. You're so right about fresh stock. It simply can't compare nutritionally or in the flavor department.

    I'm a first time visitor and love your site. I've discovered so many foodies / artists since I started blogging. It's nice to meet another kindred spirit.

    Thanks for sharing at the Hearth and Soul Hop!

  3. I was instructed to remove eyes and gills when using fish heads for stock, that keeping them would turn the stock bitter?

    1. I haven't heard this, but it could certainly be true. I will say my stock is not bitter though, so I'm not sure. Sorry I can't be of more help.

  4. We. Do alot of pan fishing. Im wondering if i could make stock with they're carcasses?

    1. I don't know why it wouldn't work. I'd give it a try.

  5. This is probably a strange question, but being also from the Twin Cities, I do a lot of fishing during the summer. Could I make fish stock with the carcasses of Sun Fish, Walleyes, etc...?


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