Making a Fish Broth

How to make a fish broth

A classic fish broth is made by gently simmering fish heads and bones in white wine and water with onions and a bouquet garni. Like other broths, fish broth can be made with uncooked bones for a light-colored and flavored effect, or with bones that are first browned for a richer flavor. Lean non oily fish such as flatfish, sea bass, striped bass and snapper make good all-purpose white fish broths for use in sauces, braised fish dishes and paellas. For a full-bodied brown fish broth such as the one used for bouillabaisse, brown the bones and vegetables before adding water so that their juices caramelize to give the broth a deep and rich flavor.

A red-wine fish broth such as the one used to make Snapper Baked with Red-Wine Fish Broth is made with the browned bones of an oilier fish like salmon which has too strong a flavor for a classic broth. This broth is made with red wine instead of water and white wine. Carrots add flavor and sweetness to red-wine fish broth but are rarely used in a classic white fish broth.

A classic fish broth is made by simmering the bones and heads, called frames by professionals; from filleted fish with sliced onions, a bouquet garni, a little white wine and water. Fish broth should not be simmered for  more than 30 minutes, or it will develop too strong a flavor.

Steps to make a fish broth -

  • Remove any guts from the fish's rib cage.

  • Remove the gills.

  • Snap the fish's spine in a couple of places by bending it. Soak the fish bones and heads in cold water for a couple of hours. Leave the bowl in the refrigerator or add ice and change the water every 30 minutes.

  • Combine the drained fish heads and bones in a pot with a bouquet garni, sliced onion, and enough water to barely cover.

  • Pour in a small amount of wine. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Strain.

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