Fish Stock

The best fish to use in a light stock for cream and butter sauces are sole, turbot, halibut, and trout. For fish soups and hearty stews, use whatever non-oily fish bones and heads you have: bass, grouper, snapper, haddock, etc. Fish stocks should be brought to a boil as fast as possible, and skimmed and simmered for no more than 40 minutes. The vegetables have to be small so that they cook entirely in this short time. Any leftover stock can be frozen briefly.


  • 5 pounds fish carcasses
  • 1 cup celery, finely chopped
  • 1 cup onion, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 sprig fresh tarragon or chervil, or ½ teaspoon dried leaves
  • teaspoons salt
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup dry white wine


Wash the fish carcasses, removing the gills from the heads and scraping away under water any blood from the backbone.

Put the celery, onion, herbs, and salt in a pot. Add 1 cup of the water, cover, and sweat the mixture over low heat for 10 minutes. Do not let any browning occur.

Add the fish carcasses and remaining water. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, lower the heat to a bare simmer. Skim any scum off the surface, avoiding any floating vegetables or herbs. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the wine and simmer another 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, let sit for 5 minutes, then carefully ladle all the stock into a fine strainer over a container. Do not press down on any fish in the strainer. Pour off the last of the stock into the strainer and discard the debris. Immediately refrigerate the stock, uncovered. When it is cold, cover until needed.