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Apr 7, 2004 02:21 PM

Fish stock uses

  • t

Although I've long been in the habit of making chicken and beef stocks, I've never made fish stock because I'm not quite sure what I would do with it.

One finds so many recipes calling for "fish stock or water", so I wonder why I should even bother.

My 3 lb. frozen cod head and I are wondering if there are any dishes out there that are truly elevated by a well-made fish stock.

Thanks in advance for any guidance.


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  1. I think that shrimp stock vastly improves seafood stews and risotti, and that fish stock does the same for soups and stews. Having said that, I am always pretty happy with dishes of that ilk made with a very light chicken stock and/or bottled clam juice mixed with water or a little white wine. If you can get shrimp with the heads still on (that's where the fat is) it makes an awesome base for a risotto or jambalaya.

    1. Well, anything seafoody-soupy tastes good when made with fish stock as a base.

      Once I made fish stock from some heads and skeletons and put it in the fridge for later use, and the stuff completely solidified into a rubber-like, cloudy-colored jelly. It melted easily but it was kind of weird, and I completely grossed out my partner (a squeamish Ohio-born steak lover who doesn't even want to think that fish have heads) when I jiggled the pot wonderingly.

      1. bouillabase, shrimp or other types of bisque, and seafood oriented rissotto are the main things I can think of....

        1. I think when recipes say "fish stock or water" they mean "you should REALLY use fish stock for maximum flavor but since you can't generally buy it at the store and the chances of you procuring a fish head and bucket of bones and making your own stock are relatively low you CAN use water and it will still turn out alright." Editors insist on the former. Other recipes could probably say "chicken stock or water" or "vegetable stock or water" and still turn out OK but the ease of buying premade versions of these kinds of stock make it kind of pointless.

          It's for the best that the "fish stock" recipes encourage our corner cutting ... I know there are recipes I've wanted to make for a while but have avoided because I can't find one crucial ingredient or tool. I've whipped up several batches of fish stews - Prenvencal and Sardinian varieties for the most part - using water (shhh). But I fantasize about how much more exquisite they'd be if I had plunged a haddock head in a stock pot and skimmed the froth myself.



          2 Replies
          1. re: rien

            look for a product called "demi glace gold" in your better supermarkets. To me, it's worth $4 to get a top quality product with no prep.

            Also, I make a more delicate fish stock by just using leftover fish bones. The heads, etc. tends to make it cloudy and gelatinous.

            1. re: rudeboy

              If you use the head to make stock, make sure the gills are gone and remove the eyes. Those are what make fish stock cloudy.

              You can't make good seafood gumbo without fish (or shrimp) stock.

          2. Hi Tom. I save shrimp shells for stock. But when I'm lazy I use bottled clam juice cooked down with a little dry white vermouth and some Italian parsley - just as good. It umphs up fish or shellfish stews greatly.

            If you have a small kitchen without great ventillation, I would avoid making it. As good as it tastes, it smells rather loudly. And don't use oily fish.