Fragrant Fish Broth

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About 5 Cups ; Serves


Appears in

This perfect fish broth has depth and nuance, everything in balance. It is great to have a stash of it in the freezer to serve as a simple broth at any time, or to use in making the central Burmese essential Classic Sour Soup or other soups in this chapter.

I often use fish fillets for this broth. A more traditional choice is fish heads. Don’t use salmon; its flavor is too strong and distinctive.


  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Dried Shrimp Powder
  • About ½ pound fish fillets or pieces (see the headnote), rinsed
  • Scant 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (ngapi)
  • About 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Heat the oil in a wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric and stir, then add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the dried shrimp powder and lower the heat to medium. Add the fish and cook, stirring occasionally, until all sides have been exposed to the heat.

Dissolve the shrimp paste in about 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, then add to the pot, together with a scant 6 cups water. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, then add the salt, lower the heat to maintain a low boil, and cook, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Strain the broth and discard the solids.

Serve as a simple clear broth, or use to make other soups in this chapter. The broth will keep in a well-sealed container for 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 1 month in the freezer.