This fish stock was for me the biggest revelation of this Stocks and Broths series. I love everything I shared until now, I would not have presented you with recipes that I find mediocre, but the fish stock totally blew me away. The reason for this is that I have actually always found fish soup disgusting. I had it a few times and found it each time terrible. The only one I’ve ever liked was a fish soup I’ve made and shared sometimes last year, but the only reason I liked that one, was because it wasn’t actually a real fish soup, just vegetable stock with fish cubes in it.
When I decided to make this Stocks and Broths series, fish stock was the last thing on my mind. I knew I would make vegetable, chicken, beef and bone broth and was thinking what else I could share. I wanted to make something that was new for me as well and the first thing that came to mind was dashi, the Japanese broth made out of kombu and bonito flakes. Then I thought about mushroom stock, something that I’ve wanted to try for a long time and then it hit me: fish stock. If I want to make dashi, which is also some kind of fish stock, than I would have to start with the more common thing for us: fish stock.
I was almost sure I would not like it but that really made more ambitious: it would have to be so good that even a fish soup hater would like it. And trust me: I love it!!!!! It is such a fine thing, slightly but not overwhelmingly tasting of fish, in this case salmon, you can taste the white wine and the lemon in it, even the fennel and the spices come through. And paired with those cloud-like, tender salmon balls… Wow! If you like fish, you have to try this. If you hate fish soup, you have to try this!
Another great thing about this recipe is how easy and quick it was to make. After the 24 hours bone broth cooking marathon, it was quite nice to make a stock which only had to cook for 30 minutes. Don’t be tempted to cook fish stock any longer, I’ve read that that would spoil the taste. The most difficult thing about this recipe was finding the fish parts needed to make the stock. We don’t have any fishmongery around here (as we don’t have a farmer’s market, a sushi place or any really interesting food store – where am I living for God’s sake?), so finding fish heads and bones to make the soup was really a challenge. Finally I found frozen salmon for soup in the Russian/ Turkish food store (which is the most interesting food store this area has to offer). You could use other fish sorts like sole or turbot for instance, I used salmon because that was the only sort I found. Maybe it was lucky that I only found salmon, it is my favorite fish.
And another thing I found difficult was looking into the eyes of those poor, split salmon heads…..
So go get yourself some fish heads and some veggies and make this stock, it is definitely worth it.
Serves: 3 liter
- For the fish stock:
- 1,6 kg/ 3.5 pounds salmon heads and bones (other fish sorts can be used instead)
- 3 celery stalks
- 2 small fennel bulbs
- 1 medium leek
- 1 medium onion
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 250 ml/ 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 liter/ 12 ½ cups water
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 small organic lemon
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 6 cloves
- 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
- For the salmon balls and the final soup:
- 200 g/ 7 oz salmon
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- 80 ml/ ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ½ fine sea salt
- a dash white pepper
- 1 larger carrot
- ½ medium leek, the white parts
- 1 large celery stalk
- lemon wedges and white bread to serve
- Wash the fish parts very very well under running cold water. Place in a large pan, cover with cold water and let stand for about 15 minutes. Get your hands in the pot and massage the fish a little bit. Drain and wash again very thoroughly under cold running water. Drain well.
- In the meantime clean and roughly chop the vegetables.
- Heat the oil in a large pot and cook the vegetables for about 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the fish parts and cook shortly together with the vegetables. Add the wine, water, spices and salt and bring to a boil, skim the foam, then simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Line a fine mesh sieve with a clean kitchen towel (not paper) and strain the stock into a clean pot. Discard the vegetables and the fish bones.
- To make the salmon balls wash and dry the salmon filet. Cut it into small cubes and place them in the food processor together with the lemon juice. Process shortly to finely chop the fish. Add the egg white, process shortly to mix, then add the heavy cream, salt and pepper. Process again to obtain a rough paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl, cover with plastic foil and refrigerate while you prepare the rest. The paste will be quite runny, don't worry about it, it will be firmer after spending some time in the fridge.
- To make the soup pour 1 liter/ 4 cups fish stock in a pot. Bring to a simmer and adjust the taste, if necessary. Turn the heat to low.
- Use two teaspoons to take some fish paste from the bowl and form it into little elongated balls. I had 30 of them. Gently place them in the soup and let them simmer for 5 minutes. Take out with a slotted spoon and place in a clean bowl.
- In the meantime julienne the carrots and the leek and cut the celery stalk into fine slices.
- Pour the soup through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot. Bring to a boil again and cook the vegetables in the stock for about 5 minutes. Give the salmon balls back to the soup and reheat gently. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and some white bread.
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