Cooking 101 – Fish Stock

Fish stock is believed by Asians to be a restorer of Qi and a good source of iodine.

Unless I plan to serve a whole medium-sized steamed or baked fish, I buy a larger fish (usually about 2 to 3 kg) for the fishmonger to fillet. No, this doesn’t mean that there is waste. Those lovely heads (too small or not the right type of fish for curry fish head), fins and bones make a delicious Fish stock with the inclusion of some vegetables and aromatics. This is my preferred way of serving fish. The end result is fish fillets can be cooked in different ways and a full bodied Fish stock from which I cook noodles, rice porridge, and other Western and Asian dishes! NOTHING goes to waste.

Some advise using only white fish like sea bass and snapper only so that the stock leans toward freshness and delicacy, not pungent fishiness. I use a variety of large size fish. Salting and then rinsing them whilst raw; and caramelizing them over a little oil in a non-stick pan keep the fish stock fragrant. My preference is to make a more concentrated stock, fill a cup of stock into marked plastic bags, freeze them till they are needed. Freezer space is precious!

Some Comments about the Ingredients

At least 1 kg of fish head and/or bones. You can use a mix of more than one type of fish as is shown in the photo above.

Basic Aromatics for a universal fish stock

  • 1 large onion,
  • 1 carrot,
  • 1 to 2 stalks celery,
  • 1/2 tbsp of white peppercorns.

Preparation

STEP 1. Use the sharp end of your kitchen scissors or a paring knife to scrape away all the blood in the head and bones. Then, sprinkle some salt onto the fish pieces. Rub salt all over these pieces (watch out for the prickly bits). Rinse and drain them. Click here for Cooking 101, Cleaning Fish.

STEP 2. Meanwhile, peel and cut into chunks all the aromatics; an onion, 5 cloves of garlic, a carrot and a stalk of celery. Wash about half a tablespoon of whole white peppercorns.

HINT. To keep this fish stock for use in different cuisines, I leave out the ginger (Asian Cuisine) and bay leaves and some other herbs ( western, or even Thai etc). These can be added later on when you are cooking that dish.

COOKING

STEP 1. Heat a saucepan or wok over medium high heat. Drizzle half tablespoon oil and spread it around to prevent sticking. Add the fish pieces and onion to caramelize them.

STEP 2. Cover the saucepan or wok to quicken the cooking process. In 3 to 5 mins you will need to flip the fish pieces over to caramelize the other side. This step deepens the flavour of your stock. Depending on the type of wok or saucepan, you may have to adjust the size of the flame.

STEP 3. Meanwhile, get a kettle of water boiling. Transfer contents into a heavy stock pot. Add all the other aromatics and enough boiling water to cover the contents by 4 cm. Once all ingredients come to a rolling boil, lower heat to simmer for no more than an hour. Unlike the other stocks, fish does not require a long period of simmer.

You may need to top up the water level with some boiling water during this period.

STEP 4. Cool and drain the fish stock. This stock is milky and rich and gelatinous.

STEP 5. Drain the fish stock once more using a fine sieve to ensure that all manner of bones and other bits and pieces are totally removed. This is a necessary precautionary step.

STEP 6. Once the stock is completely cool, pack into one cup size, well-marked bags and freeze till needed.

HINT. Once the stock is frozen, you will only need to scrape away any fat just before using stock.

RECIPE

Ingredients

At least 1 kg of fish head and/or bones. You can use a mix of more than one type of fish as is shown in the photo above.

Basic Aromatics for a universal fish stock

  • 1 large onion,
  • 1 carrot,
  • 1 stalk celery,
  • 1/2 tbsp of white peppercorns

METHOD

Preparation

1. Use the sharp end of your kitchen scissors or a paring knife to scrape away all the blood in the head and bones. Then, sprinkle some salt onto the fish pieces. Rub salt all over these pieces (watch out for the prickly bits). Rinse and drain them.

2. Meanwhile, peel and cut into chunks all the aromatics; an onion, 5 cloves of garlic, a carrot and a stalk of celery. Wash about half a tablespoon of whole white peppercorns.

Cooking

1. Heat a saucepan or wok over medium high heat. Drizzle half tablespoon oil and spread it around to prevent sticking. Add the fish pieces and onion to caramelize them.

2. Cover the saucepan or wok to quicken the cooking process. In 3 to 5 mins you will need to flip the fish pieces over to caramelize the other side. This step deepens the flavour of your stock. Depending on the type of wok or saucepan, you may have to adjust the size of the flame.

3. Meanwhile, get a kettle of water boiling. Transfer contents into a heavy stock pot. Add all the other aromatics and enough boiling water to cover the contents by 4 cm. Once all ingredients come to a rolling boil, lower heat to simmer for no mare than an hour. Unlike the other stocks, fish does require a long simmer.

4. Cool and drain the fish stock. This stock is milky and rich and gelatinous.

5. I drain the fish stock another time through a fine sieve to ensure that all manner of bones and other bits and pieces are removed. This is a necessary precautionary step.

6. Once the stock is completely cool, pack into one cup size, well-marked, bags and freeze till needed.

HINT. Once the stock is frozen, you may or may not want to scrape away any fat just before using stock.

If you would like to make other types of Stocks, Click here for my post called “Cooking 101 – Why Homemade Stocks”?

 

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