A classic fish stock (also known as fish
broth) is made by gently simmering fish heads and bones in white wine and
water with onions and a
bouquet garni. Like other stocks, fish stocks 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 stocks for
use in sauces, braised fish dishes and paellas. For a full-bodied brown
fish stock such as the one used for bouillabaisse, brown the bones and
vegetables before adding water so that their juices caramelize to give the
stock a deep, rich flavor.
A red-wine fish stock is made with the
browned bones of an oilier fish, salmon, which has too strong a flavor for
a classic stock. This stock is made with red wine instead of water and
white wine. Carrots add flavor and sweetness to red-wine fish stock but
are rarely used in a classic white fish stock.
As a general rule, measure about 2 cups
of water per 1/2 kg of bones. The water should just barely cover the
bones. Too much liquid will make the stock too diluted and weak. When
making a brown fish stock, slightly less liquid is required, because the
bones will have fallen apart and will take up less space.
Soak fish bones in cold water to get rid
of any traces of blood, which would discolor the stock. Cut out the
gills for the same reason.
Snap the backbones in one or two places
to break them up before cooking. This releases the gelatin in the bones
and makes the bones more compact so that you can use less water.
Leave heads whole as it is almost impossible to break them up and
moreover, they'll fall apart as they cook.
Because fish stock cooks for less time
than chicken stock, the onions must be cut smaller so they release their
flavor faster. Chop or slice them.
Fish stock cooks for much less time than
poultry or meat stocks. About 20-30 minutes is often sufficient because
the bones break down and release their gelatin quickly. Don't cook
longer than necessary or the stock will taste fishy.
A classic fish stock is made by simmering
the bones and heads (professionals call it "frames") from filleted fish
with sliced onions, a
bouquet garni, a little white wine and water. Fish stock should not be
simmered for more than 30 minutes, or it will develop too strong a flavor.
- Remove any
guts from the fish's rib cage. Some cooks gut fish before filleting,
in which case the frames will not contain any, but it's easier to
fillet the fish before gutting and then remove the guts from the
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. change the water every 30
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 about 20-30 minutes.