Posted by: socalsalty | February 3, 2011

How To Make A Fish Stock

On a recent half day, one of the other anglers, Eddie, told me he wanted to catch sculpin in order to make a hot (as in ‘spicy’) Korean fish soup.  Well in order to make a fish soup, you need a fish stock, and it’s always good to make your stock vs. buying in a can (if you can even find canned fish stock).   It also kind of pains me sometimes to see the head and carcass go to waste.  I usually take my fish off the boat whole for this reason.  So I’m happy to show you a way to make good use of these items.

I asked a dear old friend, Hink, if he could show me how to do it.  Hink is a great cook.  I’ve learned a number of things (cooking related and otherwise) in the 20+ years I’ve known this guy (we were dorm neighbors freshman year in college).  To this day, I remember a cold morning at Mammoth when Hink showed me how to make chilaquiles.  And Hink isn’t just an amateur Iron Chef like Salty.  He actually managed restaurants in LA and Las Vegas for a West Coast, high end seafood chain.  Hink recently left the corporate cooking world and is now in process of writing his own cookbook.

Below is Hink’s Fish Stock.  Just like my Simple Way to Cook Fish, it’s a solid base to branch off of creatively.

Enjoy!  Salty

Hink’s Fish Stock:

Salty asked for ideas about fish soups. To get a really good soup, whether it’s a vegetable or beef or poultry soup, you need a good stock! The stock is made from boiling the bones (or vegetables) down to very strong flavored broth. Most stocks require a day or two, not fish stock. Fish stock can be done in a half hour. The bones are more delicate and need far less time to extract the flavor.

I live in Las Vegas and so I have to rely on whatever my local fishmonger has available, in this case Halibut!

Mmmm…flattie carcass

You’ll need about 3 – 4 lbs of fish carcass. Use lean fish: sculpin, snapper, halibut: don’t use salmon or trout! (I wouldn’t recommend Tunas, or Yellowtails either, but most other Southern California Fish are just fine!)

I don’t like elaborate fish stock recipes, I prefer just lightly salted water, a couple of chopped carrots and celery, 1/2 bay leaf, or a small bay leaf, a clove of garlic and about a teaspoon of kosher salt. Depending on what you’re going to be using the stock in, heavily herbed and spiced stocks are going to affect the flavor, this is especially true with Fish Soups, as they generally are far more delicate than beef and poultry soups.

Simply carrots and celery

After you’ve cleaned and fileted your fish, remove gills and wash the frame until the water runs clear. Chop the frame, flatten heads however you need to to fit in a roomy stock pot. (It should be enameled or stainless steel.) Throw in the vegetables (Julia Child, by the way, used no spice whatsoever in her fish stock!) and cover with about 3 quarts of water, enough to cover.

Bring to a boil. As the stock heats up scum will come to the top, remove this using a spoon (I use a slotted spoon, with a bowl nearby to flick the scum in!), once it comes to a boil you can stop removing the scum. Reduce heat and simmer, loosely covered, for about 20 minutes. Let cool. Remove fish bones and vegetables either with tongs and spoon or by running it through a colander. Cover and refrigerate, or do what I do which is to divide it into pint containers and freeze, so that I only use what I need. Frozen fish stock is good for a year.  Refrigerated it’s good for about a day.

By the way, don’t be lazy, get those used fish bones outside in the trash immediately!



  1. Sounds good , I’ll have to try it next time I make chowdah 🙂

    • I like the tip about freezing it. Jake has this knack of snagging spider crabs and they make a great soup. Would be awesome to have some broth cued up for it in the freezer.

  2. That is nearly identical to the way I make fish stock. Too cool. Halibut make the BEST fish stock. Sheepshead is good too. Them I use it for anything from clam chowder, to just simple seafood soup. Dang I miss the ocean lol

    • Good call on sheephead. If I wrote it today, I’d have called that out. With the vegs, I just make a rough chop now. Easier to strain out big pieces.

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