Fish stock is, in my opinion, the best stock to make. It is nutrient dense, loaded with DHA, the most inexpensive, and the quickest! A win-win-win-win situation.
When I first started reading about traditional nourishing foods I would skim over recipes for fish stock thinking it was too out there, probably smelly, and unlikely that I would ever “go that far”… well, I did it. I made this easy, simple, DHA-rich nutrient dense food and liked it.
In the recent monthly shopping trip where we stock up on beef and fish items in bulk, we came home with a bunch of fish heads. The trip before, I bought some fish bones and heads to feed our dogs. Tristan made a comment about making our own broth and it took me some time to get excited about actually doing it. This time when we headed out for our shopping, I knew I wanted to take the plunge and try it out. I was rewarded with finding huge tuna heads!
I love broths and am excited to have found such easy ways to charge my body with deep medicinal benefits of traditional, nutrient rich super-foods.
By now, I’ve had enough experience with healing nutritional deficiencies via wholesome traditional foods that I can’t turn down trying something new. Sometimes, you just have to push past the culturally ingrained “eww” factor and get down to receiving the important nutritional profile. I enjoy nose-to-tail eating and our whole family reaps benefits from these primal foods. It felt very special to be able to respectfully use the whole animal, fish heads included.
I am happy to report during cooking, fish broth actually does not smell offensively fishy!
Fish broth will cure anything” ~ South American proverb
Why Fish Stock?
There is no doubt about it, broth is beautiful.
- DHA and EPA make this stock far more beneficial than beef bone broth. These Omega-3 fatty acids are the most important nutrients for the body and brain. Very few people realize the importance of these fats, and very few people are getting enough of them.
- Fish stock is the simplest stock to make. No roasting or long simmer times required.
- Fish stock is the most affordable stock to make. Lately, I see the grass-fed bone prices from big online suppliers rise reflecting the increasing popularity of beef bone broth. From what I can tell, small local suppliers do not seem to be affected in the same way – another reason to buy local! (Shopping tip: Ask around at your local farmers’ market for a seafood vendor who will save heads for you. If there is a Whole Foods around, call to reserve carcasses and they will save them for you. Depending on the source they may be free or up to a few dollars per pound. Be sure to specify non-oily fish, you want about 4 pounds)
- Fish is good for your health. The Hordaland Health Study completed in Norway clearly demonstrates a “diet high in fish and fish products is associated with better cognitive performance…”
- Fish stock is rich in bioavailable minerals: iodine, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, silicon and sulphur.
- Fish stock has gelatin, which among the myriad of benefits, helps nourish the digestive tract and improve the digestion of food through its hydrophilic (liquid attracting) properties.
- Most blogs that discuss fish stock mention the beneficial affects it can have upon the thyroid gland. It’s the real claim to fame on the internet. The is that if properly made, fish stock utilizes both the carcasses and heads of fish, this means the actual thyroid gland is getting simmered down into your broth. Fish stock is touted as a whole foods source to guard against thyroid deficiency (hypothyroidism), however, apart from people implying we should eat the parts you want to heal, there is no hard evidence I can find that supports this claim…to me this claim sounds a bit fishy 😉 Of course, iodine and selenium are highly beneficial for thyroid function, but I am skeptical of the claim that fish thyroid is nourishing for our thyroid.
Fish Stock Recipe
3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish like sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
fresh or dried thyme
fresh or dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup dry white wine (used for flavor, we choose to omit)
1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
3 quarts cold filtered water
1. Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Saute vegetables just until they’re soft. Add white wine and bring to a boil.
2. Add the fish carcasses (head and body) and cover with water. Add the vinegar and bring it to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Now add the thyme and parsley to the pot.
3. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours.
4. Strain the liquid and store in pint-sized jars or containers. Store in fridge or freezer. Be sure to label your stocks so you don’t get confused. I love these reusable chalkboard labels.
5. Pick the meat away from the bones (it will just fall off by this time), refrigerate or freeze it to add to your soup later, or save it for use in a salad like you would with canned fish.
What to do with fish stock?
Drink it like tea or try this fun recipe for Ecuadorian Encebollado de Pescado (aka Tuna Soup) from the daughter of a friend of ours – Laylita. It is written in English – you won’t have any trouble deciphering it 🙂
How to Make Fish Stock
- 3 or 4 whole carcasses, including heads, of non-oily fish like sole, turbot, rockfish or snapper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot, coarsely chopped
- fresh or dried thyme
- fresh or dried parsley
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (used for flavor, we choose to omit)
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 3 quarts cold filtered water
- Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot. Saute vegetables just until they’re soft. Add white wine and bring to a boil.
- Add the fish carcasses (head and body) and cover with water. Add the vinegar and bring it to a boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the top. Now add the thyme and parsley to the pot.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours.
- Strain the liquid and store in pint-sized jars or containers. Store in fridge or freezer.
- Pick the meat away from the bones (it will just fall off by this time), refrigerate or freeze it to add to your soup later, or save it for use in a salad like you would with canned fish.
Ideally, fish stock is made from the bones of sole or turbot. In Europe, you can buy these fish on the bone. The fish monger skins and filets the fish for you, giving you the filets for your evening meal and the bones for making the stock and final sauce.Unfortunately, in America sole arrives at the fish market preboned. But snapper, rock fish and other non-oily fish work equally well; and a good fish merchant will save the carcasses for you if you ask him. As he normally throws these carcasses away, he shouldn’t charge you for them. Be sure to take the heads as well as the body!
Looking for more broth? Watch our bone broth recipe video, try my Endless Bone Broth Method, and learn why bone broths are an essential food for successful keto adaption and avoiding the “keto flu”.
Resources for Fish Stock
Broth is Beautiful – Weston A Price Foundation (Sally Fallon)
Nourish Broth: An Old-fashioned Remedy for the Modern World – Sally Fallon
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats – Sally Fallon
Dietary iodine intake in the etiology of Cardiovascular Disease – J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Feb;25(1):1-11.
The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency – lef.org