Tomorrow I am making a French fish soup for which I need fish stock. There may be some store that sells canned fish stock, but it is not around here. It is time to create my own fish stock.
I do not believe in making a rich stock and then just throwing away the solids. If you have been reading my blog you will know that this is one of my bugaboos. My solution this time is to use the parings of the vegetables I plan to use in Sunday’s meal. These are the bits and peelings that I would usually discard. Those bits that I would not discard, like the good pieces of fish and shrimp, I will use in a dish on Saturday.
When I prep garlic for crushing, I usually trim off the last 1/8 inch by the base. The same is true for shallots. For the carrots, leeks, and celery I trim off the last ¼ inch. And I also trim the tops where it has gotten a bit dry. For fennel I usually buy it with the green parts already trimmed off, because I really have few recipes that use that part of the plant. All of these bits I would normally just discard, but today I am going to use as much of the plant as possible.
A bouquet garni is a fragrant bundle of hers used in French cooking. Usually it is tied together, or placed in a reusable bag, to make it easier to remove after it has worked its culinary magic. As I am planning to strain the stock I did not bother to tie them together.
Karl’s Fish Stock
½ lb. shrimp with shells
1 Tbs. olive oil
8 shallots’ parings
½ cup fennel stalks, roughly chopped
8 black peppercorns
2 carrot parings
3 leek parings
2 stalks celery parings
10 cloves garlic parings
10 parsley stems
2 sprigs thyme
10 black peppercorns
2 lb. fish head, coarsely chopped and cleaned
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups water
1. Peel and trim all of the vegetables.
Tip: Reserve the vegetables themselves for another dish.
2. Put two cup of water in a small pot and bring it to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for three minutes, until the shells turn pink. Reserve the cooking liquid.
3. Dunk the shrimp in cold water and shuck them. Reserve the shells.
Tip: Reserve the shrimp for another dish.
4. Put the oil in a large pot and add the garlic and shallot parings. Cook over medium heat for two minutes.
5, Add the other vegetable parings to the pot and cook for three minutes more, stirring frequently.
6. Strain and measure the shrimp cooking liquid, if necessary add water to make it two cups. Add the liquid, the bouquet garni, and the shrimp shells to the pot.
7. Clean and chop the fish head into pieces.
Tip: Make sure not to leave any bits of gill material, blood or other odd bits that do not look tasty attached. This does not include the eyes, yumm.
8. Simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
9. Strain the solids out through a fine mesh sieve. Cool the solids and pick out any useable pieces of fish meat.
10. Squeeze the remaining solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Strain this liquid and add it to the rest.
11. Put two cups of the fish broth and the recovered fish meat in a blender and process well.
12. Add the blended fish to the rest of the broth and use immediately or reserve to use the next day.
Tip: Notice that no salt has been added to this stock. Add any salt near the end of cooking of any dish that you use this stock.