Simple Fish Stock


The quality of your stock is essential to the final dish… brilliant soups require brilliant stock and brilliant stock is typically or most satisfyingly made from scratch. Freshly made stock should taste like it is freshly made and top quality ingredients like the freshest fish are important. I completely understand the practical side to using concentrated or “instant” stock cubes, but for the most part, their saltiness and concentration of flavor agents such as garlic powder, onions, etc., meant to “replicate” a real stock , are noticeable to anyone who makes stock regularly. Don’t get me wrong, I use canned or shortcut stocks sometimes, particularly in dishes with lots of other stuff going on, but there is something very comforting about making your own stock. If I need a fish or seafood stock, I always make it from scratch…

Here is my ultra simple, very easy and highly flavorful fish stock which you can use in Ciopinno, Seafood Paella, etc. In a large pot, put about a kilo of fresh bisugo, cleaned and sliced in half, heads and all. Fish with “white” meat work best in fish stocks, the flavors of dark meat fish such as tuna and tanguige can overhwelm a stock and the final dish. If you have them, add a cup of shrimp/prawn heads. Add some chopped onions, leeks, a rib of celery or a handful of flat leaf parsely, peppercorns, salt, bay leaf, a chopped carrot and about 15-16 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil then lower heat to a gentle simmer. Skim any surface scum that forms. Simmer for just 30-40 minutes. Yes, you can overcook fish stock. Strain out the solids and check and adjust the seasoning. It is now ready for use. It will keep a couple of days in the fridge or you can freeze it. I almost always use it immediately after making it.

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13 Responses

  1. There is really nothing like fresh homemade stock. This is not something I have always done (unless for fabada), but I love doing it now :) The flavor is something else…my paella-making uncle always says that the secret to any paella is in the stock…

  2. I save my shrimp peel and head and fish head and pins be bangus, snapper or grouper in the freezer. No one likes the fish head in my family whether fried or in any other version. When I save enough, I make it into a stock. It is good for sotanghon and the different varieties of pancit

  3. Does fish stock have to be made from the same variety of fish or can you mix diff types of fish for a stock? (i.e, if i have saved up fish heads from diff kinds of fish, can I make the stock from this mixed group?)

  4. Best to use lapu lapu bones for fish stock. Don’t use salmon as they are very oily…ergo, you end up with an oily stock and you see those oils floating on top while you simmer. Better also if you ust simmer it for thirty mins coz you dont want your herbs or spice sachet to overpower the flavor of you fish. :)

  5. CecileJ, I agree with Lovely, use white fleshed fish like lapu lapu or maya maya or bisugo as they are less oily. The darker meat fish tend to be overpowering. Don’t overcook it. And yes, I think you can mix remnants of different white fish and some shrimp. I read a recipe once that suggest mussels as they imaprt a nice flavor as well.

  6. J, the day after you have served a baked chicken and you have a whole carcass, throw that into a stockpot and add a whole dressed chicken, preferably an organic or free-range chicken or native chicken, fill pot with water to cover the chicken by a few inches. Boil this over high heat and remove the scum that will rise to the surface. Add 1-2 chopped carrots, a white onion, leeks if you have them, maybe a rib of celery, some flat leaf Italian parsely, a few peppercorns and simmer this covered with pot top ajar for about 3 hours. About 45 minutes into the boil, I remove the white meat and dark meat from the whole chicken and set this aside for chicken sandwiches or chicken salad. Continue boiling the carcasses. You need a slow boil/simmer to achieve the best stock. Once done, strain solids out and let the stock cool. Add salt if needed. Store in the fridge and you can skim off the fat solids that form on the surface. Use within 72 hours if refrigerated, otherwise freeze it. Sometimes I find that chickens fed with fishmeal can give off a terrible flavor…make sure you start with good chickens…

  7. thanks marketman. I will try your chicken stock recipe. Any suggestions as to where can i get “real” native chicken. I buy our native chicken from a certain store in annapolis but i am quite doubtful if those chickens are really native. I find them too big to be native chickens. And how do I know if the chickens were fed with fishmeal?

    By the way, i discovered your blog site a week or two ago. I tried a few of your recipes namely, the fish in parchment, the crab in olive oil, the crab with sotanghon, among others, and i liked it. We usually buy Live Lapu-Lapu from a restaurant in Greenhills and cook it at home. Yesterday, I bought Live Lapu-Lapu again and I baked the Lapu-Lapu according to your recipe and it tasted really good.

    I am excited about this fish and chicken stock recipe. I’ll try it soon.

  8. J, you will know a chicken fed with fishmeal from the taste of the broth, it will taste “fishy.” Ntive chickens at the wet markets are available. Or just get one of those Pamora free range chickens sold at the Gourmet shops like Terry’s but they are overpriced if you ask me… The ones you get in annapolis should suffice for now…as you get the hang of the broth, you will be able to taste more of the difference as you make your ingredients more and more special…

  9. MarketMan, have you ever tried making Fish Fumet, its a stronger version of the fish stock and it is good for sauces and for your paella or even boulliabaise and cioppino. . . its just simple you just have the same ingredints but the difference is you suate the veggies and the fish or fish bones add white wine then fish stock and while simmering add peppercorns, bay leaf, cloves (just 2)

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