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Fish stock recipe

Fish stock recipe

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  • Soup
  • Stock

Homemade fish stock is economical and simple to make, and lends incomparable flavour to your favourite recipes. Or simply freeze in small portions to have to hand whenever you need it.

London, England, UK

2 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 4 litres fish stock

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1kg fish parts
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 sachet d'épices
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 4L water

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:45min ›Ready in:1hr5min

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or stock pot. Add the fish parts and cook gently for 2 to 3 minutes, without browning. Add all remaining ingredients, crushing the sachet slightly to release flavours.
  2. Simmer gently, uncovered, over a low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Line a colander with muslin and place over a large pan or bowl. Pour the stock over to strain, discarding the solids or reserving for another use.
  4. Use the stock immediately, or return to the pan to reduce the stock for a stronger flavour by simmering till your desired flavour is achieved.

Storage tip

Fish stock will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Fish stock

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  • 2 pounds bones and heads of lean, white-fleshed fish, such as snapper or bass, gills removed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1/2 large onion)
  • 1 cup diced fennel bulb (about 1/2 large bulb)
  • 1 medium leek, minced
  • 2/3 cup diced celery (about 2 large ribs)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 whole black peppercorns

Place fish bones and heads in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Stir in kosher salt until dissolved. Let stand 1 hour. Drain, then rinse fish under cold running water, washing away any large areas of blood (such as near spine).

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, fennel, leek, celery, and garlic, and cook, stirring, until vegetables have softened slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in fish heads and bones. Add wine and cook, stirring, until it begins to steam. Add 4 cups water (liquid should just barely cover heads and bones if not, add just enough more to barely cover). Add parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and peppercorns.

Bring liquid to a bare simmer, then lower heat so that it stays just below a simmer, with only the occasional bubble. Cook for 20 minutes. Using a spoon, skim off any scum that accumulates on the surface.

Strain fish stock through a fine-mesh strainer, then chill. Fish stock can be kept refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

This is the perfect treat for Thanksgiving, but it's so good, you'll want to make it again and again throughout the entire year.

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Fish stock

This is a light fish stock, good as a base for soup or gentle liquor for poaching fish.



Skill level


  • 1.6 kg white-fleshed fish frames, wings or heads
  • 1 large celery stalk, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 2 medium brown onions, cut into quarters
  • 4 medium shallots, cut into 5 cm batons
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns, roughly pounded
  • 3.5 L water
  • small handful of parsley stalks

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Wash your fish bits under cold running water and then place them in a large pot with the vegetables, bay, thyme, peppercorns and water. Place on a medium heat and slowly bring to the boil. As soon as you see it start to bubble, turn the heat down to low and spend a few minutes skimming the stock. You want to stock to be at a very gentle simmer, barely moving in fact.

Add the parsley stalks and let the stock gently cook.

Give your stock two hours on the stove, remembering to give it a little skim every twenty minutes or so. Once you have removed it from the heat, let it sit for ten minutes before gently straining.

Allow the stock to cool before transferring to the fridge or freezing.

• The stock will keep for a couple of days but it’s best to freeze it if not using immediately.

Don’t use pink fish bones and also try to avoid any fish that is too oily.

Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Tiffany Page. Creative concept by Lou Fay.

Read our interview with Tama. This recipe is from our online column, The seasonal Cook: celery. View previous The Seasonal Cook columns and recipes.

Strong Fish Stock

This recipe uses a technique called "sweating" to extract maximum flavor from every ingredient. Although sweating adds a step, this stock is still effortless to make and takes only five minutes longer to cook than the Traditional Fish Stock.

I begin by sautéing a very thinly sliced mirepoix (onions, celery, and carrots) with herbs and peppercorns. I then layer fish heads and frames (bones) on top of these vegetables, add a little white wine, and cover the pot. As the heads and bones "sweat" (and steam), the proteins are drawn out. If you peek, you will actually see little white droplets of flavorful protein coagulating on the surface of the bones. After the sweating is completed (about 15 minutes), I cover the bones with water and simmer them briefly. I let the mixture steep for 10 minutes before straining it, producing a stock that is full-flavored and gelatinous. The fish heads are what endow this stock with its marvelous jellied consistency, which in turn gives a luscious mouth feel to the chowder broth.

How Do You Make Fish Stock From Scratch?

Making fish stock from scratch is super easy!

It is the simplest stock to make because the cooking time is short and there is no pre-roasting required.

With less than 10 ingredients and just 30 minutes of simmering, you can make a delicious savory stock in your own kitchen.

There’s nothing to be intimidated about!

The best fish bones to use are from lean white fish rather than an oily fish like salmon, mackerel, or tuna. These can be used but be aware that the broth becomes very strongly flavored and is only suitable for those fish-specific recipes. For example, salmon stock makes an unbelievably perfect salmon chowder but not much else.

So make the most of your effort here and pick a white fish:

  • Bass
  • Cod
  • Flatfish
  • Stripers
  • Pacific rockfish
  • Lingcod
  • Halibut
  • Flounder
  • Sole
  • Turbot
  • Snapper
  • Walleye
  • Perch
  • Tilefish
  • Porgies
  • Redfish
  • Sea trout
  • Bluegills

It’s actually easy to get fish bones. Just visit any local fishmonger and ask for a few pounds. They will be very cheap, if not free!

Take advantage of your location if you live near the coast or freshwater source of fish. Visit the fish market and pick up material from the freshest catch.

Do make sure the bones are cleaned and don’t have any blood or gills. If these parts are added to the stock and simmered, it will be bitter and cloudy.

The heads are the best parts so don’t shy away from the opportunity to use them.

Run the material under cold tap water to thoroughly clean and remove the slime from is not already done for you.

Basic fish stock

Ever heard of bone broth? At least as a term, bone broth is relatively new, popularized — even hipsterized — by the rise of the Paleo diet, which focuses on the consumption of meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, or the kinds of foods that formed our diet during the Paleolithic era. The broth, usually homemade but increasingly available at shops and through special order, boasts a thick texture with a pronounced flavor, and it’s the latest darling of the health food world, with cookbooks, websites and even a local restaurant devoted to the stuff.

“One of the reasons I wanted to open a bone broth concept is it’s so unique. I haven’t seen this much in L.A.” says Erwin Tjahyadi, chef at the new restaurant Bone Kettle in Pasadena. “Bone broth is comfort food. And it’s got a lot of vitamins and collagen.”

Proponents of bone broth, which is touted as a new superfood by some, the next miracle elixir by others, rattle off a laundry list of benefits, arguing that it combats everything from rough skin and joint pain to arthritis, intestinal issues and even hormonal imbalances. Brothing might just be the new juicing.

So what is bone broth? Essentially, the liquid is nothing more than a pot of bones and water, maybe vegetables and herbs as well, slowly simmered for hours until every last bit of flavor is extracted from the ingredients. Which, of course, sounds an awful lot like stock, that lowly kitchen staple.

“I think it’s kind of funny,” says Michael Ruhlman, award-winning food writer, cookbook author (among others, he co-wrote Thomas Keller’s “The French Laundry Cookbook”) and cooking authority. “ ‘Bone broth’ is a marketing device. There’s no difference between bone broth and stock, and I’d like to talk to anyone who says otherwise, period.”

The label may be new, but bone broth is about as revolutionary a technique as live-fire cooking. And, of course, pots of bone-based stock are one of the fundamental building blocks of classic French cuisine as well as a basic kitchen utility, born out of a desire to use every trimming and kitchen scrap, from leftover bones to wilted parsley stems.

Unsurprisingly for an age-old recipe built on little more than bones and water, a great pot of whatever you want to call this stuff is easy to make at home. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time.

The most important ingredient of a good bone broth is — wait for it — the bones. Bones define the type of stock (beef, veal, chicken, fish) and determine its flavor and thickness, and you’ll want five to six pounds for every gallon of stock you make.

You can use almost any bones, but certain types are prized. Those high in cartilage, such as knuckle bones, make terrific stock, as the collagen in the cartilage thickens the liquid, providing body as well as flavor. Neck and back bones, as well as feet, are also very good for this. As collagen is heated, it transforms into gelatin (think Jell-O) release enough gelatin into a stock and it will solidify when chilled. If possible, cut up the bones so the pieces are no bigger than a few inches each this will allow the bones to break down more quickly and easily.

Bones lend texture and definition to the stock, but it’s meat that contributes real flavor, particularly tougher meats that are high in connective tissue, another source of collagen.

“Meat has all the flavor. I don’t like the flavor of bones,” says Ruhlman. “What you want is a high-meat, high-cartilage, low-bone ratio for the best broth. I like the flavor of meat and sweet, aromatic vegetables.”

Look for meaty knuckle bones or leftover chicken carcasses (raw is best, but the picked-over bones from a roast chicken work well too), as well as trimmings from a roast or a braise.

For richer flavor, roast the bones first: Place the bones on a tray in a 450-degree oven until they’re dark and brown, a half hour or so before adding them to a stock.

In addition to bones, consider other flavorings, such as vegetables or herbs. For a classic French stock, a blend of onions, carrots and celery — called mirepoix — is added, along with things like parsley, thyme and whole peppercorns or cloves.

Tjahyadi, who is from Indonesia, fuses Korean and Vietnamese methods with French technique. “Koreans use femur bones, and I love to use Vietnamese herbs and ingredients.”

Once you have your stock cooking, keep it at a gentle simmer, skimming off any foam, fat or other impurities that rise to the surface. Depending on the stock, cooking times can range from as little as 45 minutes (for fish) to several hours or more (beef, veal and game). Many bone broth advocates call for even longer cooking times, such as a day or more. Tjahyadi cooks his broth for 36 hours.

Keep in mind that as the ingredients slowly infuse the stock, the prolonged cooking will also result in evaporation, concentrating the flavor of the stock and thickening its texture. This is called reduction. Because of this, avoid seasoning the stock until you have finished cooking it otherwise, the seasoning may be too much for the stock.

After you’ve made a batch of stock, use it as a base for soups and stews, gravies and sauces. Or just enjoy it by the glass.

“I don’t like the term bone broth, but I love the trend,” says Ruhlman. “I love that people are enjoying something so healthy and nutritious.”

Recipe 3: Dried anchovy stock recipe 江鱼仔高汤

Try to find the larger sized dried anchovies. They should be pale in colour. Dried anchovies are intact with heads and guts. It is important to remove them before using. The video below shows how to remove the heads and guts.

  • 200g dried anchovies
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 litre water
  1. Remove the heads and black part of the anchovies
  2. Rinse the anchovies thoroughly. Rinsing wash away any grit or sand, it also wash away excess salt
  3. Peel the garlic and separate them into individual cloves
  4. Place the anchovies in a deep soup pot and add the water
  5. Bring the water to a boil and add the garlic
  6. Cook for 30 minutes
  7. Strain the soup before using or freezing

What do you do with the leftover anchovies?

The cook in the video above didn't waste a thing. She made crispy anchovy snacks with the bodies and cat food with the fish heads and guts.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 pounds heads and bones of nonoily white fish, such as sole, flounder, snapper, or bass
  • 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 dried fennel branches, broken in half (optional)

Remove the gills and any traces of blood from fish heads thoroughly wash bones, and cut them to fit into a 12-quart stockpot. Place heads and bones in a large bowl, and set aside.

Quarter leek lengthwise cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to a bowl of cold water let stand 5 minutes to rid leek of sand. Lift out of water drain in a colander set aside.

Make a bouquet garni by placing bay leaves, parsley, thyme, cloves, fennel seeds, fennel branches, and peppercorns in a 12-inch-square piece of cheesecloth. Form a bundle, and tie with kitchen twine set aside.

Melt butter in a 12-quart stockpot over medium heat add cut leek, onion, celery, and fennel bulb cook until vegetables are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium high, and add fish heads and bones. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add wine, bouquet garni, and 2 1/2 quarts water, covering the bones. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Turn off the heat, and let sit 10 minutes.

Prepare an ice bath. Strain the stock through a fine sieve set over a large bowl. Set the bowl in the ice bath. Use stock within 1 day, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Fish Stock

For this all-purpose stock, a gentle simmer, rather than a boil, releases the flavor in collagen-rich fish bones without allowing them to cloud the water. Shrimp shells and almost any aromatic can also be added. This recipe first appeared in our April 2014 issue.

Find this recipe in our cookbook, Fish Stock


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