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Apr 22, 2009 11:36 PM

fish stock/bouillabaisse--any advice?

My family and I are having a fish-based getogether meal this weekend and I said I'd attempt bouillabaisse. I have never actually had it, but it looks similar to cioppino which I love.

I am working from a recipe from the Fish Market Cookbook ( which calls for fish stock...

Where on earth do I get fish stock, and/or is it better to make it? For some reason that seems a little intimidating to me (tho chicken stock is not for some reason), extra time to do it notwithstanding... I saw somewhere on this site someone mentioned a Better Than Bouillon fish stock, but I know they dont have that at my market unfortunately...

The cookbook I have siad if I make it from scratch to use heads and bones that have been filleted no more than 2 hours prior--ummm.... not sure thats going to be realistic... and that the stock may generate some sort of weird fatty film that I will have to freeze then scrape off. This is why I am hesitating...

Any opinions/advice on how to proceed?

Blugh. Wondering if I should choose something easier...

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  1. The easy way: jarred clam juice.

    The making-stock way: ask your butcher/fishmonger for shrimp peels, fish bones etc. They are often frozen in plastic bags and given free to customers. At least that's been my experience. The stock is easy to make and takes only about 30 minutes. .

    1. Fish stock is pretty easy and quick to make. The main things to watch out for are to not let it boil, and to do a good job of skimming all the scum the fish produces. Heads, tails and bones, cover with cold water and a little white wine, don't go overboard with the aromatics, bring it up to a bare simmer, and let it cook for around 40 min and don't forget to skim. Let it cool to room temperature, skim the top again, sieve to separate the stock and you're done. If you didn't boil the stock, there shouldn't be too much floating around in there and you don't need to worry about clarifying it (you're making bouillabaisse after all, there will be plenty of solids floating around in the final product). And don't forget the rouille!

      1 Reply
      1. re: tmso

        I don't believe you have to buy your fish for your stock and make it right away, but the same day would be best.

        I take classes at Helen's School, as a matter of fact I am taking her One Fish, Two Fish class in June. Here is a link to her fish stock, and trust me anything she makes is devine.

        I haven't made my own yet, because Better Than Boulion has a product I substitute with.

        Good luck, you dinner sounds fun and yummy.

      2. Thanks all for the links and advice. I'll stop trying to talk myself out of it and go for it. I definitely want to make this a day ahead though.

        Any problem with leaving it in the fridge overnight (skimmed/strained)? I could freeze it, but seems silly seeing as I'd just have to thaw as soon as it freezes...

        mcel215--In California we have a great small chain of restaurants called the Fish Market. My parents bought my sisters and I all a cookbook from their founders, and now once a year we have "Fish Market Night". It is fun and yummy! :)

        3 Replies
        1. re: tundrah

          Where do you live? I live LA and I get Knorr's fish or shrimp stock in cube form from 99 Ranch market in Van Nuys. 99 Ranch market is a chain of asian markets spread throughout LA but I am sure you can get it a other asian markets. I use the stock to make bouillabaisse, ciopinno, and seafood gumbo.

          1. re: bgazindad

            99 probably also has fish scraps and/or heads for a few dollars a pound. The best stock that I've made was from halibut collars, very bony pieces.

            1. re: bgazindad

              Here is the ingredient list from a Knorrs Fish Stock Cube: Salt (16%), Vegetable Oil, Potato Starch, Fish Powder (5%), Yeast Extract, Sugar, Celery Seed, Onion, Flavourings, Garlic, Dextrose, Herbs (Parsley, Tarragon), Spice Extracts (Nutmeg, Fenugreek, Lovage, Celery Seed)

              Mostly salt.... you would do better with a box of Kitchen Basics if you don't want to make your own.

          2. I generally make all of my stocks, but generally not fish stock, which seems to really stink up the house even with simmering gently for 30 minutes. Luckily, the fish markets here in Ottawa make their own and freeze it--it is as good as I can make, and the house smells nicer afterward.

            4 Replies
            1. re: zamorski

              hmmm. good point by both of you above--no harm in calling the Fish Market and asking them if they have any I can buy... that would be the best solution for sure! :)

              bgaz--I live in San Diego...

              1. re: tundrah

                My son goes to school in SD. We go there often. I thought I saw a 99 ranch market in the Kearny Mesa area. Check out the phone book if you are interested in the instant stock. I know this is not the gourmet thing to do but I am pressed for space in my freezer. The cubes store anywhere but I suggest that you keep them in sealed freezer bags to contain the scent. I mostly use the shrimp stock. It makes a killer gumbo.

                1. re: bgazindad

                  Are these shrimp cubes the ones from Mexico? If so, you can find them in most Latino shops as well. You can also find dried shrimp, in both Mexican cello spice packages, and bulk in Asian groceries. Whether you want that strong of shrimp character in a bouillabaisse i s another matter.

                  1. re: paulj

                    I do not know their origin. Its Knorr's brand. If its too much use their fish stock version. There is a fish stock and a shrimp stock that Knorrs makes.

            2. Fish stock is dead easy - if you can get heads and bones - and doesn't smell bad. tmso's method is perfect. After skimming and straining you can also reduce the stock down (by boiling) for concentration of flavor and collogen. You don't need to freeze it. The stock will be fine in the ref.