Fish Stock: A Chefs Secret Weapon

Fish Stock: A Chefs Secret Weapon

A Great Fish Stock Can Be Your Best Friend

The building blocks of any great sauce, start with a strong foundation. Beautiful fish stock is a fundamental part of any great dish when you’re building flavors.

Over the course of my cooking career, I’ve learned that there are many ways to make stock, one of the keys is to never boil your stock this creates a cloudy unappealing mess.

Be sure to rinse your bones a few times before you begin the process and constantly skim off all the fat and impurities that simmer to the top of your pot. I’ve included a recipe for a simple fish stock at the bottom of this article and my 5 favorite ways to use it.

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Can I Make Fish Stock Without Bones?

You don’t need to hunt down fish bones at your local fish market to make stock. Many of the best fish stocks I’ve have made utilized ingredients saved and frozen from past meals.

I often cut fish into more uniform shapes, as they look better on the plate. The trim goes in my freezer and I utilize it for a fish stock at a later date. The skin is also a great flavor and releases beautiful flavor into your fumet.

Typically I avoid using oily fish like a Salmon or mackerel for stocks as they have a lot of fat and make the stock murky. Many recipes online tell you that fish heads should be used in stock, but I avoid them. 

Another great resource is shrimp shells, I always buy shrimp with the shell on for this very reason. Shrimp shells add a rich seafood flavor to your stock and can also be used for a shrimp bisque. Shell on shrimp tends to be cheaper then peeled and it takes minimal effort to dislodge them from their casing. 

Crab or lobster carcasses are invaluable when you’re making a fish stock without bones. Crab shells add great flavor and the freeze perfectly, we have king crab legs every year for Christmas and I save all the scraps for a beautiful fish stock at home. Check out the Fulton Fish Market for the freshest seafood delivered to your door. They have been in operation since 1822 and is the second largest fish market in the world, right behind Tokyos Tsukiji market.  

Fish Stock

What Are The Health Benefits of Fish Stock?

The Agricultural Revolution has led humans to consume large amounts of grains, oils,  and grain-fed animals resulting in diets that have become unbalanced. Bone broth has made a big splash in the consumer market and is now sold at every grocery store. I wanted to look at the health benefits of fish broth and why you should always have some in the freezer.

Fish broth is full of antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins that our bodies thrive on. High in omega 3 fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins, it is a great source for both. It’s also rich in calcium and helps keep bones strong. Studies have found that bone broth contains electrolytes and amino acids that help with muscle recovery and rejuvenation.  

Fish, in all forms, has repeatedly been shown to slow cognitive decline and improve memory. With the many health benefits, fish fumet is a great resource to keep on hand as a nutrient-rich drink or to use in soups and sauces. Look below for five of my favorite ways to use your homemade fish stock.

5 Great Ways to Use Your Fish Stock

Steamed Clams are so simple to make and are really versatile. I like to use shallots, garlic, white wine and fish stock as a base to all my steamed clams. The stock fortifies the flavor, adding depth to any steamed clam dish. 

Cioppino The humble beginnings of this famed dish begin with the blue-collar Italian fisherman in the late 1800s. Cioppino was born out of leftover seafood that wasn’t traded at the market or to purveyors. It was in these modest homes that Cioppino was created and eaten. Read more about the history of the original San Francisco treat including my personal recipe

Beurre blanc is a classic French sauce and pairs well with most fish. The base of a beurre blanc sauce is white wine, vinegar, shallots and peppercorns reduced to au sec (almost nothing left in the pot) and then emulsified with whole butter to create a wonderfully rich sauce. The addition of fish stock to any beurre blanc blends perfectly and layers flavors to your sauce. Whether it’s a pan-seared halibut or garlic butter shrimp I love adding my fish stock to the classic beurre blanc.  

Paella is the most iconic dish hailing from Valencia, in Eastern Spain. When the rice was introduced to the Spanish over 1200 years ago by the Moors, paella looked very different. The humble beginnings of this dish originated with modest farmers utilizing whatever they had on hand for lunch. It was common to see snails, rabbit or even duck in paella as they were readily available. There will always be an ongoing debate on what goes into this classic dish, but using homemade fish stock is a beautiful way to fortify paella and make it uniquely yours.   

White Bean Cassoulet is classic French and originated in Languedoc, a province that edges the Mediterranean Sea. It has traditionally been served with meats including duck confit, rabbit or pork, but I love using it for fish. Roasted tomatoes, garlic, onions, white wine, and homemade fish stock, take your white bean cassoulet to another level.  

Fish Fumet Clams

A Simple Fish Stock

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 # Fish bones
  • 1.5# Onions
  • 1 # Fennel
  • 1 # leeks
  • 1.5 # celery
  • 6 Oz Parsley stems 
  • 2 Oz Thyme 
  • 1 Oz Black peppercorns
  • 7 ea Bay leaves 
  • 1 Qt White wine 
  • 3 gallons of filtered water 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Soak the bones in salted water for 1 hour to remove impurities, rinse with clean water

  2. Sweat vegetables and aromatic’s until translucent

  3. Add the bones, liquid and the rest of the ingredients

  4. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 1-hour max, skimming the top throughout


READ MORE ABOUT: CIOPPINO: THE SAN FRANCISCO TREAT