Fish Stock

Despite what most cookbooks tell you, fish stocks should be brought to a boil as fast as possible, so that all the albumin coagulates and rises to the surface for skimming.

Simmer for no more than 30 minutes, or the stock will taste “fishy” and stale.

The vegetables have to be small so that they cook entirely in this short time, and the acid from the wine is necessary if you are to use the stock for making butter sauces, but it is added only after the vegetables have given up most of their flavor (it would impede this process if added at the beginning).

Any leftover stock can be frozen for up to a month.

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds fish carcasses
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 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
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Method

Wash the fish carcasses, removing the gills from the heads and scraping away, under running 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. The moment it boils, lower the heat to a bare simmer. Stir the bones around very gently for a few seconds so that any coagulated albumin trapped at the bottom will rise to the surface. Skim any scum off the surface, avoiding any floating vegetables or herbs. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the wine and simmer for another 10 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 and refrigerate until needed.

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