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Fish Broths

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I make meat and chicken broths occasionally, and would like to start making them more. But I was thinking that its probably also a good idea to make fish broth. They all have gelatin in them, not just meat broth, right? 


Anyhow, I'm trying to keep things as low cost as possible, and meat and poultry certainly aren't cheap around here...

Neither is fish.

The cheapest fish I can buy are young hake, and sardines. I'll have to go to a fish store and see what else I can get cheaply, but as far as I know, those are my cheapest options.


And they both have really strong fishy tastes.

Any ideas how to make fish broths taste more palatable? (I can't put any meat/poultry or their derivatives in the fish broth, nor can I use shellfish or squid or things like that.)


I'd love ideas for good tasting fish broths that can be made cheaply.


Oh, and I'd really prefer non dairy as well, as I'm sensitive to dairy.

post #2 of 16

I make "Fish" broth without fish----we save up un-cooked shrimp shells and twice a year I make a seafood soup- that is raw lobster, raw crab and clam (sometimes mussels) and all are cooked in the same water- after they have been really scrubbed I throw them in, when cooked, they are removed and the raw shrimp shells go in along with onion, celery, carrot and herbs- strain and use as "fish" broth


you can also get fish bones at the fish market-most are free! 

Edited by serenbat - 8/15/11 at 10:27am
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thats a great idea! A new fish market just opened up near me- I'll have to ask them about getting their leftover bones!

post #4 of 16

I buy the clam because we want them but the place I get them from does "bakes" on site and you can also get the shells for free (maybe you have a place like this as well) also the shell adds calcium to soil-some plants need it-I do re-use the shrimp shells as well and compost them for tomatoes

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hrm, thanks for the ideas, but pretty much the only specification I made in this thread was that I needed ideas that weren't shellfish. That eliminates shrimp, clam, mussels, oysters, lobsters, crab, etc....

post #6 of 16

see if you can just get free bones-one other thing- I don't know where you are but in my are we have shad and a festival in the early summer- they catch and throw them them away (not a release) and those are free


did you try posting on craig's list for your local caught? 

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

I like in a pretty landlocked area, so people aren't really doing fishing round here- everything available is shipped in...

post #8 of 16

I was taught to only use low-activity, non-oily fish for fish stock (fumet):



Low-activity, non-oily fish:

bottom dwellers, flatfish, and "browsers" (vs hunters)

Cod family (cod, pollock, hake, haddock and cusk)

Flat fish (flounder, sole, halibut, sand dabs)



High-activity, oily fish:

anything with an arrow shaped tail (indicates high-activity) - mackerel family (sardines, anchovies), salmon/trout, tuna, swordfish


In between, sometimes okay for stock:

Bass, snapper, grouper


To make fish stock:

Use the carcass (minus fillets), fins, trimmings, etc.  No gills or guts.

Use about 8# bones/trimmings per gallon of water (ideally - less is still okay), and 1# mirepoix (for fish stock use onion, leek, celery), herbs, and white wine (1 cup)


Melt a spoonful of butter in a stock pot.  Gently sweat the fish bones in the butter (gently cook, but don't get any color), then add the veggies, cook gently a few more minutes, then add the wine.  Simmer the wine for several minutes, then add the water.  Simmer gently for 20 minutes, adding the herbs at the last couple minutes.


Strain and chill.


Don't cook your fish stock for more than 25 minutes - you won't get any more flavor out, and your stock's taste will become dull with overcooking.


Definitely ask at the seafood counter for bones.  You might really luck out.


post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the ideas!


What's the problem with the high activity fish? Taste? Or nutrition?

post #10 of 16

All high-activity fish are much more oily and "fishy" than the low activity fish.  It's just an easier way to remember the dividing trait, versus remembering salmon are high-fat, cod are low fat, etc.  The slow ones are good for stock!

Technically, you could use oily fish for stock - it won't kill you! - but the stock will be cloudy, greasy, and extremely/grossly fishy.

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Bantams View Post

All high-activity fish are much more oily and "fishy" than the low activity fish.  It's just an easier way to remember the dividing trait, versus remembering salmon are high-fat, cod are low fat, etc.  The slow ones are good for stock!

Technically, you could use oily fish for stock - it won't kill you! - but the stock will be cloudy, greasy, and extremely/grossly fishy.

Interesting you say that, because you said hake is of the slower fish... and the broth I made with it was extremely fishy smelling...


Why would oily fish be problematic for stock, but fatty meat not?

post #12 of 16

Hmm, not exactly sure, but I can think of a couple possibilities:

- it wasn't actually hake - it is very common (unfortunately) for fish to be mislabeled

- the fish was getting a bit old, and fishier

- it was overcooked (think of perfectly cooked salmon, vs horribly overdone salmon - big difference)  This is tricky with a stock, because you are cooking it beyond "done".  But just make sure you stop simmering after 20 minutes.


Proper fish stock should be flavorful, but with only mild fish aroma (think of how really fresh fish smells not like "fish" but more of the ocean - this is what your stock should remind you of).


Oily fish tastes very strong when overcooked (think of tuna and salmon).  I'm assuming it's because the fats have compounds that break down when cooked and give off a fishier flavor.

Edited by Bantams - 8/16/11 at 1:39pm
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

No, I know it was properly labeled...

Isn't the point of these animal based broths supposed to be to get the gelatine in you? How can cooking something for 20 minutes give you gelatine?

post #14 of 16

No, I don't believe the point of fish broths is for gelatin.  It's for flavor, for getting more protein, vitamins, and minerals, and for making a beautiful base for your soups and sauces.

There might be some gelatin leaching out (especially with the white wine for acidity), but 20 minutes isn't very long.


I suppose you could clean all the meat off the fish bones and boil them in an acidic solution to get the remaining gelatin out, but it wouldn't be very tasty!


Forgive me if these aren't the answers you're looking for - I'm "into" food for the culinary aspect, so I usually care more about taste than say, mineral benefits.

But we raise most of our own food (dairy, meat, poultry, vegetables), so I feel I'm doing a lot of good, in that respect.


post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

When I was asking about fish broth in the "nutrition and good eating" section, I was asking specifically from a nutritional standpoint. Otherwise I would have asked on Chowhounds. ;) The reason I want to incorporate fish broth into our diet along with meat broth is because many of the traditional foodie diets say that for nutrition reasons, the gelatin and such from these bone broths is very good for your intestines and does lots of healing for your body, so I was looking for ways to make that a little more palateable.

post #16 of 16

I'm sorry!

I'm just not as knowledgeable about the nutritional aspects of food as some here.  But I do know how to make it taste good :)


I mean, there are so many variables when making stock - the age of the animal (at least for land animals, younger = more leaching ability, more gelatin and calcium, etc), cooking time, size of bones, amount of acid, what type of fish, etc. 

I believe you'll get a fair amount of gelatin out of your bones, because in the initial minutes of cooking, the potential for osmosis is highest.  And really, the most you would ever get is about half the potential, since the gelatin will stay in equilibrium between the bones and water/broth.  If you wanted to get the most out of your bones, the best thing you could do is make a "remouillage" - basically a recooking in fresh water with the same bones to get more gelatin out the second time around.  Yes, it will be weaker, but if you reduce it down you can concentrate it.  Just don't overcook it with the bones still in it. 


It's all about that balance of taste and nutrition!


One other thing I just thought of - fish bones are far more delicate than beef or chicken bones, so it takes much less time to break down and leach out the good stuff.  So 20 minutes might even be optimum, not just for taste, but also for gelatin.


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