From the Chronicle Kitchen: Gjelina’s Fish Stock Recipe
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MAKES ABOUT 1 GL [3.8 L]
From author and chef, Travis Lett: Good fish stock is not only essential for making lovely fish soups and stews but it’s a holistic, soulful way of utilizing fish bones, which comprise a large part of a fish’s mass. White-fleshed, less-oily fish such as snapper, halibut, bream, sea bass, and sole are ideal for stock, but cod, salmon, grouper, and tuna could be used for a “fishier” stock. Lobster, shrimp, and crab also work amazingly well, so don’t shy away from using a combination of fish and shellfish, especially as a base for Cioppino. This is useful if you have a variety of bones and shells saved, or can gather them at the fishmonger. The key is to simmer very slowly; this prevents you from pulling out the more aggressive fishy notes or impurities that tend to come with rapid boiling. Be sure to taste your broth to achieve the intensity you desire.
1 lb [455 g] fish head and bones, preferably snapper, bream, or halibut
Extra-virgin olive oil for cooking
1 fennel bulb, quartered, and tops
1 white onion, quartered
1 leek (green parts only), halved lengthwise and rinsed
2 celery ribs, cut into 3-in [7.5-cm] pieces
1 carrot, cut into 3-in [7.5-cm] pieces
1 garlic head, halved through the equator
2 Roma tomatoes, halved
1 Fresno chile, halved
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 dried bay leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig
¼ tsp peppercorns
Split the fish head in half and rinse under running water. Rinse the fish bones thoroughly under running water, washing off any blood or guts that remain attached. Set aside.
In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium heat, warm enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot until hot but not smoking. Add the fennel bulb and tops, onion, leek, celery, carrot, garlic, tomatoes, chile, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns and sauteé until the vegetables just start to soften, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the fish head and bones. Add water to cover the fish pieces. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low. The liquid should be at a slow simmer. Skim any foam or impurities that rise to the top in the first 5 minutes. Season with salt and continue simmering and tasting until the stock has a rich, fishy flavor, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the stock from the heat. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a container large enough to hold all the liquid and strain the stock. Press down on the vegetables to extract all of the liquid from them. You can pour the liquid through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer a second time for a clearer broth; I don’t. Discard the solids and allow the stock to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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