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Oct 1, 2009 10:54 AM

fish stock for bouillabaiise

I had bouillabaisse in Berlin (at KaDeWe food court) that was sort of life altering. I've had dishes falsely called bouillabaisse in the past, but I never got what was so special about it until now. I must make it!

What I am most concerned with at present is the base stock. I have never made a fish stock before, so I'm looking for tips. If possible, I'd like to make a basic stock to have on hand in the freezer so extra tips in that direction are especially appreciated.

I have access to all kinds of whole fish via our local Asian markets, and I think I can get some good stock parts from them too. I know for sure that they carry cod heads, as well as various "little fish". I saw the use of tiny fish recommended in Tony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook...does not seem too common to do this, but if it works...?

any and all advise greatly appreciated.

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  1. The "Les Halles" cookbook has stock recipes too. I am sure fumet is covered in that section.

    1. I use the spine, head and tail after I fillet a fish but if you dont' do that yourself I'm sure your local asian market would sell the trimmings to you dirt cheap (i.e. less than what little fish cost), maybe even free if you're a good customer.

      1. I would use any good basic fish stock recipe. In general, use heads and bones from mild whitefish such as cod, flounder, halibut, sea bass. Avoid oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, bluefish. Taking care in cleaning the head and bone will yield a clean tasting stock. Remove the gill and stomach/gut. Rinse the head and bone well (especially around the stomach area) to remove any blood impurities. Don't use the skin from the body as it can darken the stock. I use very little aromatic because I don't like too much of a vegetative taste. Just a little white/yellow onion, celery and whites of leeks, parsley stems, bay leaves; no carrots. Skim and simmer over low heat will yield a clear stock. Most recipes call for simmering the stock for about 30 to 40 minutes. I usually go longer, about an hour to get the maximum flavor. Strain it well. The taste should be clean, mild and only slightly fishy. For bouillabaisse and other fish stews, the stock need not to be too strong because you'll be adding quite a bit of seafood later that will further flavor the stock base.

        1. Talking bouillabaisse is talking religion. I heard endless debate when I was an exchange student in the south of France. Some say fennel is more important than the kind of fish. Some demand oily fish in the broth. Some say light ones only.

          I'd think purists would frown solidly on Asian fish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: dmd_kc


            If you weren't joking, Asian markets carry a wider variety of whole fish and fish parts than average - that is the advantage. They carry a huge range of fish, too. And it's always better quality than alternative such as whole foods.

            Given I can't get my hands on scorpion fish, or anything else from the Mediterranean for that matter, we can guess I will fail miserably from the purist standpoint before I even begin. They will just have to be offended while I enjoy my soup.

          2. i like to add a couple of bottles of clam juice to my stock. I use it exclusively if i don't have stock.