Preparing a Fish Stock

Delicious fresh fish on dark vintage background. Fish with aromatic herbs, spices and vegetables - healthy food, diet or cooking concept
The ingredients for a fish stock. Pjhoto bt Natalia Klenova c/o

A fish stock is an absolute requirement for any seafood dish that requires a strong sauce or a base for a soup, fish stew, various sauces or for a seafood risotto. A stock such as this can also be used for poaching fish. It is often made from unused fish pieces including the bones, sometimes molluscs and crustaceans.

Like most stocks simmering causes fat to rise as a scum to the surface. This needs to be strained off. You might also consider a smaller volume in which case just halve or quarter-size the amounts.

Some of the vegetable ingredients are optional such as the celery. I also add a few large leaves of lovage if I find it in the garden too. These sorts of ingredients add an extra layer or depth to the overall flavour of a fish stock which can be almost too light at times. 

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Ingredients For A Typical Fish Stock:

For 5 litres;

  • 5 litres cold water
  • 100ml dry white wine (optional)
  • 2kg white fish pieces and bones (haddock, sole, turbot, cod, whiting), heads but not gills
  • 275g onions, finely sliced
  • 50ml lemon juice from 1 large lemon
  • peppercorns (if required)
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • a hand-size bunch of parsley and their stalks
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped thyme
  • 2 stalks of celery (optional)
  • handful of lovage leaves (optional)
  • 5-6 peppercorns


  1. Place all the ingredients in a stockpot or large saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities usually as a scum with a ladle or spoon.
  3. Simmer for about 20 minutes and keep skimming off any floating material
  4. Strain through a sieve into a large, clean container such as a jug which is easier to handle when the fish stock is used elsewhere.
  5. Freeze in portions or use straightaway for further cooking. The container needs to be airtight. Do not overfill containers as they have a habit of bursting on freezing and then throwing their contents all over the floor on thawing (just bitter experience)!
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1 Comment

  1. A good recipe and one I have trusted now to give me good results in flavour on the last few attempts. I find some of the other chefs like Jamie a bit too fussy and I don’t trust some of his methods especially on the simmering times. I thought yours were closer to the flavour that I wanted. I also thought your meat stock and brown stock recipes were great too. They seemed to give me a great base for the hotel restaurant. I will pass on some of my recipes too as I notice you try to recreate many based on pub visits.

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