Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday's Tip from the Green Housewife - Use Fish Heads to Make Delicious Broth

(If you have a weak stomach, do not read this post.) For our anniversary, Pete got me "Nourishing Traditions", a cookbook which I have wanted for some time, and for which I can't say enough good things about. It is based on the diets of traditional societies which have longevity, and challenges a lot of modern assumptions about nutrition. I can't put it down; I have always been a person who enjoys reading cookbooks, but I  put off finishing a Wodehouse novel (Hot Water, which is one of the funniest books I've ever read) for a whole two weeks to read this one!
One of the recipes which caught my eye was for Fish Stock (pg 119), after I read this (pg 117): "Fish stock, made from the carcasses and heads of fish, is especially rich in minerals including all-important iodine. Even more important, stock made from the heads, and therefore the thyroid glands of the fish, supplies thyroid hormone and other substances that nourish the thyroid gland." (My doctor recently told me that my thyroid gland was ok, but not great...hmmm..)
Like most stocks, start by simmering vegetables - I chose carrots, onions, celery, and zucchini - in butter (use organic butter from pasture fed cows if you can afford it - it has more vitamin A and D) for half an hour.

Meanwhile, fillet the fish, saving the bones and head (I filleted? 6 trout - next time I am asking for heads and bones from the butcher - a lot less work!):
Then add the heads, the bones, and 1 quart of water and simmer for two hours (the book recommends simmering for four to twenty-four hours, but I used trout, an oily fish, and I didn't want it to go rancid. It also calls for white wine; I didn't have any on hand so used rice vinegar instead):
I forgot to take a picture of the finished result, but the broth was almost a gel, which means I made it successfully, pulling out the gelatin from the bones. I strained out the head and bones, and froze most of the broth for future use. Since I used trout, the broth is rather fishy tasting and can't be substituted for chicken broth (next time I will use snapper or sole), but I made a delicious fish sauce with it which Pete loved and I swear helped my concentration that evening for diagramming Greek and balancing the checkbook! I plan on buying a little crab or mussels when it is on sale to make a mouth-watering fish soup.


  1. Sounds great! I can't buy fish at my local grocery store because it is too expensive. I just got an idea to ask for fish heads at a chinese shop which sells seafood.

  2. Joyful - that is a great idea! I am going to start asking for the same at the grocery store so I don't have to do the filleting. We get really good deals on fish at Costco (maybe because we are in San Diego by the ocean)- they probably dont have Costco in Canado though.

  3. Thanks for your kind comments about the quilt. I'm not sure what I think about fish stock. I've never seen a recipe asking for it. :)

  4. Wow Andrea - that sounds awesome! I've personally never filleted my own fish, so props to you for doing SIX! Let me know how the fish soup goes. But don't tell Stuart - he might come and eat it all. =)

  5. Leslie - I didn't either until I read "Nourishing Traditions"!

  6. Jessie - I don't know if I plan on doing it again - I think I will ask to see if I can get free fish heads from the butcher next time (it was a little slimey, lol, but at least I know how to do it!)


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