Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fish Stock

After the success of the vegetable stock, I got it into my head to make my own fish stock - or fumé to the classical chef - for the next post that you'll see in a few days.  After all, it's pretty much the same thing, but you add fish bits while boiling.

The "fish bits" seemed to be the hard part.  I buy fillets because I don't want to deal with heads and stuff.  I don't think the average consumer does, because most of what you find in the market is beautifully filleted and mostly skinned.  The first two seafood counters I went to had no idea what Fish Stock was, much less what I meant by "trimmings".  Big chains apparently do not butcher their own seafood.

Whole Foods to the rescue.  I almost never shop there, but they do have an elaborate seafood section.  Plus, they have a big sign over the fish counter that they will skin and fillet fish for you.  Bingo.  They'll even cook your seafood, which to me defeats the purpose of buying it at a market instead of going to a restaurant.  I pre-ordered a pound or so of any white fish bones, heads, fins, and skin that he could accumulate over the weekend.

What I ended up with was the cuttings off of two big rockfish.  It was the size and weight of a newborn, and he gave it to me for just a token price that made this project economical.  Time to scale up the recipe and freeze the leftovers.  Frankly, I wasn't sure it would fit in my stock pot.  I went out and bought quart mason jars for the first time ever.  I never can a batch that big, but this was going to require several.  It is important to mention that, even though I stored the stock in mason jars, they are not "canned".  You can't water-bath can stock, and I don't own a pressure canner.  This was simply a cheap, reusable storage medium that allowed me to keep track of the yield.
What are you complaining about?  I'm the one who had to touch it.
Fumé sounds all fancy because it's a classical sauce.  I used the recipe out of my garde manger book, with the exception of using kale instead of leeks because that's what I had in my stock freezer bag.  Oh, and I used some sherry instead of opening a bottle of white wine.  There are no carrots because you want a white stock.  It's really easy because nothing has to be cut pretty.  You're only going to be using the liquid when you're done.  I didn't even bother with a bouquet garni pouch and just tossed everything in.  I trust my strainer.

1 lb fish heads, fins, bones, and skin (no gills)
1 C chopped onion
1 rib celery, chopped
1 leek or 2 leaves kale, chopped
1 Tb olive oil
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
5 whole peppercorns
1/4 C white wine (or 2 Tb dry sherry)
1 qt water

1.  Open the windows.  In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium low.  Add fish trimmings and cook until opaque, stirring frequently.  Add vegetables and spices and sweat vegetables until onion wilts, about 5 minutes.  Add wine, spices and herbs, and water.
2.  Bring to a low simmer.  Do not boil, as that will kick up impurities.  If it gets foamy, skim off top.  Keep heat very low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3.  Remove from heat.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or doubled cheesecloth.  Either use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later use.  When chilled, it will become slightly gelatinous.  This is normal.  Keeps in the fridge for 5 days, freezer for 1 month.

Makes about 1 quart

Difficulty rating  π


  1. Used the heads and tails of Arctic char to make fish stock which worked fine except I had real trouble with the fish eyes left in the strained out solids -- that they were no longer in pairs and thus were looking everywhere at once...

  2. Ew! I tried very hard not to look at the pieces. Just checked that the stock itself was clear.


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