I love seafood stew. Cioppino is my all-time favorite, but Manhattan clam chowder is hard to beat—New England style is great, if you prefer the creamier, dairy-based version, but I’m a bigger fan of the spicier, tomato-based version. Either way, the secret to making extra tasty seafood soups and chowders is in the broth. I know people who use chicken stock, and that’s fine, but not if you’re truly a pescatarian and not if you’re going for an authentic dish. At times, I have used vegetable stock in place of seafood stock, BUT, no matter what I’m making, it’s never as good. Never. So when a local fishmonger had some leftover fish heads to sell, I jumped at the chance to make my own stock and save for future use. Note, you can usually get these from fishmongers and sometimes specialty grocery stores, for around $5.
Homemade Fish Stock
4-5 pounds fish heads, rinsed well
1 cup white wine (nothing sweet)
1 onion, quartered
1-2 leeks, rinsed, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
4-5 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
2 Tbsp. black peppercorns
6 cups water
Rosemary, thyme, oregano all optional
Salt to taste
Place ingredients in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 1 hour. Pour in to a fine strainer with a container underneath so you can separate the liquid from any solids. Discard the leftover ingredients. And that’s it! If not using immediately, let the stock cool, cover tightly and either refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze for up to one month.
On a side note, I have seen chefs saute the fish heads in butter before making their stock. I’ve never tried it, but some swear it makes it even better.
A note about my recipes … most of what I cook isn’t a precise science. It’s look, taste and feel. And I encourage you to cook the same way. Add a little more of this, or a little less of that … and pay attention … and before long you’ll be a wiz at cooking seafood.
Coming up NEXT on the blog … a trip down Highway 101, smoked salmon pizza, and a recap on the wild-caught vs. farmed seafood debate.
Want more from The Midwest Mermaid? Be sure to follow along here, and on Instagram for all the latest in seafood news and chews | @shaunanosler
DISCLAIMER: I’m a writer and an editor. And I try my best to make sure every post is articulate and free from errors. However, being that I edit my own work—and it’s next to impossible to properly edit your own work—I admit, occasionally there may be an error or two I miss. But doing so doesn’t make me an idiot so don’t be mean. Just smile, pat yourself on the back for finding an error and be glad you’re not the only one who makes mistakes sometimes … yes, even mermaids slip up every now and then. xoxox