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Fish Stock

By October 8, 2011September 19th, 2019Cuisine, Uncategorized

I am a great believer in fresh stock made from natural ingredients.  

It’s is far superior to prepared and processed cubes or tinned broths, which introduce too much salt and a chemical taste that has no place in a fresh soup.  Making stock is essential in Moscow as there really is no acceptable commercial substitute.    If you are going to the trouble of making it, do make a lot, and then freeze it in small batches so you have it handy.

For great fish stock, you will need some fish heads.  Ask the guys at the market to give you the heads after they clean the fish, or ask them if they have some trimmings from cleaning other fish.  Be sure to remove the eyes and the gills.


I keep a trimmings bag in my freezer in which I put all the tops and tails of vegetables and herbs.  I dump this into the stockpot and the trimmings infuse a marvelous flavor.

If you are making a clear soup, you may want to take the time to clarify the stock.  It’s a little bit of a slog, but I find it curiously satisfying and certainly nothing looks better than a clear, sparkling broth to showcase clear soup ingredients, set off by a brilliant green garnish.


  • 2-3 fish heads, gills and eyes removed (I know…I know…fish heads . They are disgusting, but they are also full of flavor and gelatine, both of which are essential to a good stock. )
  • 2 liters /2 quarts l water
  • 1 rib of celery (chopped into 4-5 pieces)
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 30ml/2 Tbl course sea salt
  • 15ml /1 Tbl black peppercorns
  • 3 crushed cloves (use whole cloves and roughly crush them in a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife.)
  • 1 bag of trimmings of fresh herbs
  • 3 egg whites
  • 45ml/3 Tbl chopped parsley


  1. Place all the ingredients except the eggs and parsley into a heavy, deep-bottomed stockpot
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer on low heat for 1 hour, skimming the surface of any scum, which has accumulated.
  3. Remove from the heat.
  4. Line a colander with fresh cheesecloth or a clean linen kitchen towel and strain the bouillon into a clean stockpot.
  5. At this point, you can stop, but if you wish to clarify the stock, proceed as follows:
  6. Decant 1 cup (250 ml) of the stock and cool to room temperature. Place the remaining stock back into a clean stockpot. Place onto moderate heat and bring to a simmer.
  7. Whisk the egg whites and chopped parsley together with the room temperature stock, then whisk in 1 cup (250 ml) of the hot stock. Pour the mixture into the stockpot, whisking vigorously until the egg begins to cook, forming white threads.
  8. Reduce heat, and slide the stockpot to the left so that only the left third of the pot covers the burner and let simmer for ten minutes. As the egg whites cook, the cloudy matter of the stock adheres to them.
  9. Rotate the stockpot around to allow the other side of the pot to cover the burner and let simmer ten minutes. Do the same to the top and bottom of the pot, taking care that the stock does not boil over
  10. Remove the pot from the heat. Line a fine sieve with cheesecloth or a clean linen dishcloth over a tall stockpot. Ladle the stock and egg mixture carefully through the sieve, taking care that the bottom of the sieve does not touch the clarified stock

Julia taught me how to do this.  (Mastering The Art of French Cooking by Julia Child and Simone Beck.)


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