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Dec 28, 2008 05:31 AM

FISH HEADS (and bones)! FRESH. (preferably sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper)


I am looking to make fish broth and need fresh fish heads and bones, preferably sole or turbot, but I can also use rockfish. Any suggestions of stores with the freshest selection in the downtown Toronto area or within walking/biking/transit would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you all. Here is the recipe if anyone is interested.

3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish such as sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
several sprigs fresh thyme
several sprigs parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/4 cup vinegar
about 3 quarts cold filtered water

Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Add the vegetables and cook very gently, about 1/2 hour, until they are soft. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add the fish carcasses and cover with cold, filtered water. Add vinegar. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum and impurities as they rise to the top. Tie herbs together and add to the pot. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours. Remove carcasses with tongs or a slotted spoon and strain the liquid into pint-sized storage containers for refrigerator or freezer. Chill well in the refrigerator and remove any congealed fat before transferring to the freezer for long-term storage.

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  1. Two words for you; Kensington Market. There are several fish stores on Baldwin between Augusta and Kensington that have all number of fresh fish and will have all the parts you need. You'll also be able to pick up all the other ingredients at the same time. LCBO on Spadina, and all the other items are readily available in the market.

    Bonne chance.

    1. There was quite an assortment at the St Lawrence market yesterday. In the south market, go to the Adventures in Cheese in the back corner and you can't miss them.
      I've seen them at T&T as well.

      1. I used to adhere to recipes calling for non-oily fish heads and carcasses, but it was easier to find salmon heads so I tried them and found the fumet had excellent flavor and a good light amber color after 1 hr. The oil on top could be removed by any standard method. Salmon heads and carcasses have become my goto method now, as they easy to find full of flavor and gel.

        1. I was at Bill's Lobster (Gerrard/Broadview) last week and noticed they had big bags of fish heads/bones available. Don't know what kind they were but since Bill's supplies a lot of the great restaurants in these parts and I've always loved what we've bought from there, I would recommend giving him a try!

          1 Reply
          1. re: CanadaSweetheart

            I am pretty intrepid but draw the line at fish stock. If you don't have a good fan you end up with a fishy house for a week! I use frozen stock from my fishmonger; it is as good as anything I have ever produced (I would not say that about beef or veal stock, though).

          2. Don't know if you're still searching, but my local Asian grocery store (Fu Yao on Danforth in Scarborough) has fish heads, and pretty much any other part of the fish you want!
            I'd suggest looking for a large local Asian grocery store with a fish counter at the back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: blizzardgirl33

              I'm sure the fishmongers at St. Lawrence Market would sell you whatever you need. I've definitely seen bins of carcasses from fish that they were filleting right then and there. If you're willing to take the fish home, you could also buy a few whole fish, and have them fillet them and give you the carcasses as well. This will guarantee you get what you want and it is as fresh as possible. I once made the mistake of taking whatever a fishmonger had and wound up with some unwieldy salmon and halibut parts that were a bit stinky (not the right fishes for stock). The next time I want to make fish stock, I'll probably buy all the fish I need whole, have the fishmonger take care of them, then have the carcasses in one bag the good stuff wrapped separately, to be used in a big fish stew feast. The fish stew can use clam broth and some chicken stock and the fish stock can be made, then frozen for future use.

              There is, however, something to be said for quality frozen fish stock that's already prepared. I have to agree with the poster who said that the house stinks for a few days. It can be a bit rank, especially if you have any oily fish or strong flavoured fish in the mix.