How to Make Fish Stock

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Fish stock will give you different nutrients than other types of stock. However, if you live in an area where finding fresh fish is difficult, don’t fret. You can still heal on the GAPS Protocol without eating fish stock.

I recommend making fish stock during good weather when you can have the windows open as the fish smell is pungent and can linger for several days. Maybe this is just a problem for me, since I live in a landlocked state of Colorado!

I love using fish stock for recipes! It has such a delicious and delicate flavor, and I honestly wish I made it more often. Because it may be difficult to acquire the right fish, I recommend doubling or tripling this recipe and freezing it. For this recipe, I used a fish that was a little under two pounds but using two or three fish of similar size is more efficient. Once strained, fish stock freezes well. 

How to Source Fish for Fish Stock

You want to use a whole fish for this recipe. If you remember, the normal ratio for meat to bones in stock is 80% meat and 20% bone with a joint. But how do we do this with a fish? The collagen in fish stock comes from the eyes, skin, fins/tail, bones, and other connective tissue, so we use all these when making the stock. 

It does not matter the type of fish, but it absolutely must be wild-caught. It was slightly difficult for me to find a whole, wild-caught fish. While I generally do not recommend Whole Foods, they do consistently have whole fish. Different types of fish will have different flavors. You can experiment with different types of fish to find one you like. 

If farmed fish is your only option, I would recommend using a different animal to make your stock. The food that is fed to farmed fish is usually soy-based and chemically enhanced, with antibiotics mixed in. Remember – you eat the food your food eats! Farmed fish should not be consumed and definitely should not be used for stock. 

It’s best to use the freshest fish possible. If you ask at the meat counter, the employees should be able to tell you when their deliveries come in so you can best plan your shopping days. If you do not relish the idea of cutting up your own fish, you can ask them to cut it for you at the fish counter. They usually will offer to filet the fish for you and should be happy to cut off the tail and head for you if asked. Make sure to let them know you are using the fish for stock and you want to take the whole fish home. I would still recommend rinsing the fish pieces with filtered water when you get home before adding them to your pot.  

Skimming the Scum

There are a variety of ways you can skim the scum off the top of your stock. I usually use a slotted spoon but you can also use a mesh scum skimmer, a slotted spoon, a small strainer, or a large soup spoon.

Skimming the scum off the top is where you can tell the quality of your meat. If your meat is poor quality, had a lot of hormones, or was poorly processed, you’ll get scum that’s heavy, grey, and unappetizing. If you have a good quality meat, you will have a small amount of light almost white colored scum that appears as a lighter foam. This is also where you can tell if your meat has gone bad at this point. If your meat or meat stock has spoiled, your stock will over produce scum, and you will smell the spoilage at the point of boil.’

Lid On or Off?

I do not recommend bringing your fish stock to a boil with the lid on! Anyone who’s had their pot boil over will likely understand why I give this recommendation. 

Once you’ve skimmed the scum, bring your stock to a simmer. Many people remove the lid from their pot to achieve the proper simmer. However, this causes too much evaporation and often necessitates needing to add water partially through the cooking process, which can thwart your quest for gelatin. I have found it best to slightly angle my lid during the simmering process. When you’re adjusting the heat for a simmer, tilt your lid slightly off the pot. This allows better temperature control especially when using an electric stove but most of the evaporation catches on the lid and goes back in the pot. 

Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Fish (I used Red Snapper)
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • Peppercorns

Directions

Rinse the fish inside and out in cool, filtered water.

You will want a filet knife to cut your fish. Make sure your knife is sharp!

Remove the head from the fish and add to a stock pot. Cut the fish into pieces, removing any large pieces of flesh / filets and set aside. Add all skin, bones, fins, etc into the pot.

Cut the filets into pieces so that you can check for any additional bones to add to the pot. 

Place the fish filets into the fridge for later consumption with your stock. We’ll add the flesh back in later when you make soup, so it doesn’t get overcooked.

Add enough filtered water to the pot to cover the fish and about an inch more. Add in the salt.

Bring the fish to a boil with the lid off. Skim the scum. 

After the fish has scummed, you could add peppercorns, garlic, or any fresh herbs. 

Turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer fish stock for 1.5 hours.

Remove from heat.

Strain the stock. Pick out any larger pieces of fish meat and set aside. This is delicious cooked fish! Picking the fish apart means you can easily find any small bones. 

Freeze the stock or keep in the fridge until you are ready to make a soup. For an idea about a soup to make with fish stock, check out our recipe for Fish Vegetable Soup.

Fish Stock

Ingredients
  

  • 1 Whole Fish I used Red Snapper
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • Peppercorns

Instructions
 

  • Rinse the fish inside and out in cool, filtered water.
  • You will want a filet knife to cut your fish. Make sure your knife is sharp!
  • Remove the head from the fish and add to a stock pot. Cut the fish into pieces, removing any large pieces of flesh / filets and set aside. Add all skin, bones, fins, etc into the pot.
  • Cut the filets into pieces so that you can check for any additional bones to add to the pot.
  • Place the fish filets into the fridge for later consumption with your stock. We’ll add the flesh back in later when you make soup, so it doesn’t get overcooked.
  • Add enough filtered water to the pot to cover the fish and about an inch more. Add in the salt.
  • Bring the fish to a boil with the lid off. Skim the scum.
  • After the fish has scummed, you could add peppercorns, garlic, or any fresh herbs.
  • Turn heat down to a simmer. Simmer fish stock for 1.5 hours.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Strain the stock. Pick out any larger pieces of fish meat and set aside. This is delicious cooked fish! Picking the fish apart means you can easily find any small bones.
  • Freeze the stock or keep in the fridge until you are ready to make a soup. For an idea about a soup to make with fish stock, check out our recipe for Fish Vegetable Soup.
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