Does fish stock make your list of the top 10 things you need to try?
It certainly didn’t make mine!
The idea of it conjured up memories of swimming in the lake back home — and getting a mouthful of fishy water when I jumped in too fast. Yep, one taste was enough.
Yet… I’m a reader, and when I read about the health benefits of fish stock, I had to give it a try.
The Benefits Of Fish Stock
“Fish broth will cure anything.” –South American proverb
While all meat stocks are healthy, fish stock is in a class all its own! It has been revered for centuries. Chinese doctors actually used it to rehabilitate aging patients, noting that it improved their mental clarity.
According to a study from Norway…
“The nonusers had a somewhat poorer health status. The prevalence of several diseases was significantly higher among those who did not eat fish and fish products than among those who did. […] In the elderly, a diet high in fish and fish products is associated with better cognitive performance…” (source)
Fish stock made with the fish head is even better. With the fish head included and cooked in the stock, the fish’s thyroid gland disintegrates, providing the thyroid hormone to anyone eating it.
All About The Thyroid
What is your thyroid? It’s a gland in your neck that controls many of your hormones and body’s functions. It creates the thyroid hormone which in turn stimulates growth, mental activity, and your body’s metabolism.
If you have a thyroid deficiency such as hypothyroidism, you may experience:
- abnormal menstrual cycles
- bone loss
- chronic fatigue, weakness, loss of energy
- coarse, dry hair, and hair loss
- cold and flu symptoms
- cold (temperature) intolerance
- decreased libido
- deep, hoarse voice
- depression and irritability
- dry, rough pale skin
- low metabolism, fat retention, weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- memory loss and inability to concentrate
- muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- slow pulse
Remember I mentioned that the thyroid hormone regulates the body’s metabolism? This may not seem like much to get worked up about… at least until it doesn’t work properly. That’s where fish stock comes in!
Fish Stock & Metabolism
The thyroid gland regulates our metabolism — and our metabolism is responsible for turning the food we eat into energy. One consequence of a sluggish metabolism? Weight gain, or an inability to lose excess weight.
Not only does fish stock provide the thyroid hormone to give metabolism a boost, it also provides gelatin — a digestive aid that’s essential to effective metabolism.
“Technically not a micronutrient, but as far as supplements to enhance metabolic function, [gelatin] is the single most important… Gelatin is massively important to the metabolic rewiring process.” –Ari Whitten, Metabolism Supercharge
For more information about the other healing benefits of gelatin, check out The Gelatin Secret, Part 1 and The Gelatin Secret, Part 2.
Are you convinced about the wonders of fish stock yet? These are just a few of its secrets! It’s both nourishing and affordable.
And, don’t worry about it tasting fishy! It actually tastes quite pleasant. 🙂 I use in it place of water for nearly any main meal type recipe — as a base for soup, to boil pasta (or rice, or other grains), in homemade sauces and condiments like ketchup, and to saute vegetables.
How To Make Fish Stock
- 3 to 4 whole fish carcasses including heads, of non-oily fish (sole, turbot, rockfish, snapper, or halibut)*
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
- 2 onions coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot coarsely chopped
- dried thyme or fresh
- dried parsley or fresh
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 3 quarts pure water
Melt butter in a large stainless steel pot.
Sauté vegetables until just soft.
Add white wine and bring to a boil.
Add whole fish carcasses and cover with water.
Then add vinegar and bring it to a boil once more.
Skim off any scum that rises to the top.
Add thyme and parsley.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for at least 4 hours or as long as 24 hours.
Store in labelled pint-sized jars or containers.
Store in fridge or freezer.
Use in place of water as a base for soup, to boil pasta (or rice, or other grains), in homemade sauces and condiments like ketchup, and to saute vegetables.
Pick meat away from the bones (it will fall off by this time).
Refrigerate or freeze to add to soup later, or use as you would canned tuna fish.
*According to Nourishing Traditions, fish stock is ideally made from the bones of sole or turbot. Unfortunately, in America, sole is usually pre-boned. Snapper, rock fish, and other non-oily fish work equally well. You may just have to ask your fishmonger to save the carcasses for you.
Oily fish like salmon shouldn't be used for making fish broth, because the highly unsaturated fish oils may become rancid during the long cooking process.
Do you know how to make fish stock? How has it benefited you?
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My initial thought of fish broth was, “Yuck”, although I really like to eat fish. I also envisioned the house smelling of fish as it simmered! My solution was to cook the broth outside on a portable burner. It does draw neighborhood cats, in case you are wondering. Although I can’t say that I love drinking the fish broth like I do chicken or beef broth, I do like it. Unfortunately, we can only get salmon heads here since I live in Montana. Too expensive to pay for shipping in the halibut or other white fish with heads on since they are usually thrown away. I did try making a batch with salmon heads, and skimmed off all the fat, but I think it makes a stronger broth.
Paula Miller says
I’ve never tried it with salmon. Some say it works, but others strongly disagree. 🙂
Harvest McCampbell says
I’ve made lots and lots of broth from salmon, and never skimmed off the fat. It is totally yummy, makes great base for salmon chowder and salmon soup, and a great all around broth if one is feeling ill. Salmon broth is totally a traditional Indigenous food everywhere salmon are a natural part of the environment.
I love salmon broth and it’s so easy to make from canned salmon juice. Since the fish was already cooked that juice is full of nutrients, especially taurine. Before opening up a large can I gently saute finely diced onion, celery, garlic, and bit of carrot in a tablespoon of olive oil or rice bran oil. Butter is good, too. Then I add the juices from the can, remove the fish, then fill the can with water to get more flavor and add it to the pot. It only needs to be heated for a few minutes, not boiled. I salt to taste then decide if I want to make a chowder or just add thinly sliced scallions and pour it over some steamed potatoes or wild rice. To make a full meal I can add about 1/4 can of salmon, finely chopped. The rest of the salmon is usually made into Asian meatballs, salmon patties, salmon salad, or a salmon sandwich.
I have never been that excited about trying fish broth either. I don’t like anything “fishy”. Even fish sauce in Asian food is a challenge for me. I did know though that it will do wonders for the thyroid and those have been some of the health issues we’ve dealt with in the past. Since you’ve said that it tastes really good I’m thinking I might could be persuaded to give it a try. I’ll just need to figure out how to get a hold of the bones….we don’t have many options like that around here.
I eat fish but I don’t like it. I mean, I eat it if that is what is for dinner, but I never wake up craving fish like I wake up sometimes with the deep need to eat bone marrow or chicken feet.
Anyway, when I was a kid one of my aunts used to boil one fish (a whole fish, minus the guts, but with skin, scales, head, eyes, etc.), a whole crab, a few whole shrimp, and some clams. She would cook them for a long time, then she would pick the meat out of the crab and the shrimp, and discard their shells along with the clam shells. Then she would grind up the fish (bones and all) along with the rest of the meats.
She said it was for good memory. Well, I only remember how nasty it tasted, and the stench that permeated every corner of the house. But you know what? My aunt is 87 and she is still one sharp lady with an intact memory. Could it be related? Maybe!
So maybe I should get over myself and make some fish stock!
I hope I can locate some sole, halibut or something in whole foods. I cannot say I am looking forward to trying it, but I guess the health benefits are worth it.
Patrice London says
I’ve never done it before but I’m convinced and can’t wait to try it! My Granny is *famous* for cooking stew fish *with* the heads. I remember once, forgetting that the heads would be included. I happily ate my food but was suddenly creeped out when I noticed an eye in my plate, “staring back at me”, lol! Granny laughed, took my plate and mauled that fish head as I watched, both amazed and a little grossed out. Today, Granny is in her late 80’s and she is just as sharp as ever. As I said, I’m convinced and will be looking for some fish very soon to make a stock. Thanks so much for this!
I made fish stock once with unknown bones from my local grocer. They were definitely salmon or some other oily fish, and the stock was nasty, in my opinion.
I now save all shellfish bones (taught this one at culinary school) and make my stocks from them. Sole bones are just too difficult to come by.
The shellfish-based stock is great.
Shannon @ GrowingSlower says
Thank you for this! I made fish stock once. I loved it, my son loved it! The picture of bulging eyes look back at me from the pot made a big uproar on my Facebook page. And then… I never made it again! I even have a fish head sitting in my freezer right now! I really need to make it again. You really sold me with the huge list of conditions it can help remedy as we are really trying to rebuild healthy at our house right now.
It’s so hard for me to find good fish in Buffalo, NY. Our grocery stores don’t have heads and carcasses. I’ve also called a few small seafood markets and have not found a good source yet.
My family loves grass-fed beef and chicken stock but would love to add the nutrient diversity!
I use plenty of chicken and beef stock but have not ever made fish stock because I have always thought it would be flavored/smell too much like fish. So, how is the stock used? Do you use it in place of chicken/beef stock? I live on the SC Coast so I have access to fish and shellfish and am interested in this stock.
Paula Miller says
Yep, you can use fish stock just as you would chicken or beef: in soups, to cook pasta, etc.
Lee Deavers says
I have used chicken stock to cook collards. I am afraid that my snapper stock will make it taste fishy?
Over from Common Sense Homesteading! Wow, this recipe looks fabulous, I am going to try it!
Can I use fresh water fish that my husband catches such as bass or crappie?…
Kay, If I may, I would like to say that I have had very good results using white fleshed freshwater fish. Perch, pickerel, walleye, bass, bream, crappie, etc.. And don’t worry about the scales, they come out when you strain the broth. 🙂
Colorful Canary says
Thanks for the recipe! Looks delish! I featured it on my blog: http://www.colorfulcanary.com/2015/07/15-enticing-capelin-small-fish-recipes.html
Lee Deavers says
Your recipe said to cook for 4 hours or more. “Nourishing broth” book said an hour. It would seem to me the longer the better. I have been following the book until now. Can’t help but wonder if I loss some nutrients? It all turned to gelatin… If that’s any indication?
As I understand the more it gels the better. With fish stock (again my understanding) is that the longer it is simmered, the fishier the taste. I am “saving up” fish bones and heads in my freezer to make a substantial batch.
Mary Anne says
Had squid risotto made with fish fume. fume is a slightly different process than the one above. No water is added as the carcasses give off quite a bit.
the risotto was absolutely delicious; the squid had been caught that day, as had the fish that gave up their carcasses for the dish. I think that’s key: get the absolutely freshest fish you can get your hands on.
I love to fish and have 6 rockfish heads sitting in my freezer waiting for me to make broth. I am the type that hates wasting anything. I am looking forward to making this and more bone broth this weekend. I wonder if any have tried using a pressure cooker to try and extract more? Or if it’s even advisable? I have a low pressure cooker that it not as intense and may try that with the bone broth.
I filleted a snapper for the first time to make a fish curry, and therefore had the head and bones to work with, and have been smelling the delicious stock boiling away this afternoon. Feeling a bit lucky that here in Australia we have access to fish carcasses pretty easily.
Thanks for the clear directions