Fish heads, fish heads, roly, poly fish heads. Fish heads, fish heads, eat 'em up yum! The opening lyrics to the 1980 comical song about fish heads by Barnes and Barnes hit the nail on the head, as they are yum!
While fish heads are indeed yummy - and I can't think of a tastier piece of seafood than fresh cod cheeks, the focus of this Wicked Scoff entry is to illustrate how you can use fish heads, and other "throw away" portions of fish to make your own seafood stock. Seafood stock is an essential ingredient to making dishes like chowder, fish stews, and the like richer and more authentic. While you can readily find powdered and liquid seafood stock or clam juice in every supermarket these days (and these are fine in a pinch), if you have access to whole fish, you owe it to yourself to make your own stock. Alternatively you can also easily adapt this simple formula to make shellfish stock by substituting shellfish "shells" such as lobster, shrimp and crab. Whatever the case, you'll be left with a flavourful stock that you can either use right away, store for a few days in the refrigerator, or even freeze for weeks.
• 3-5 lbs fresh fish (such as cod or haddock) heads, bones and trimmings
• 3 tbsp vegetable oil
• 2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
• 2 carrots, roughly chopped
• 2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped
• 2 bay leaves
• Small handful of fresh herbs such as lemon-thyme, thyme or parsley
• 1 lemon, halved
• 1 tbsp kosher salt
• 1 tsp black peppercorns
• 12 cups of water
In a large stock pot, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrot and celery and saute for a couple of minutes until they become somewhat translucent. Add the fish head/bones and trimmings and all remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil, and watch the mixture for about 5 minutes, skimming off any scum that will float to the top. Reduce the heat to a low boil or simmer, skimming off the scum as necessary. Cook for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. Strain/push the stock through a large fine sieve, and pass through again with the sieve lined with cheesecloth to ensure all the particles are left behind, so you are left with a clear stock. Pour into containers (or even ice cube trays) and and store in the fridge or freezer until ready to use. This yields about 10 cups of stock.
About Me...The Wicked Newfoundlander
I'm originally from Newfoundland, Canada, and very proud of it! I moved to upstate New York in 2007, and I spend much of my time working and playing throughout New England. Besides my wife, our dog and hockey, I'm passionate about food. I love to cook and create great tasting food. I also love tasting and critiquing food, and comparing regional cuisine (notably Newfoundland and New England dishes).
More blogs entries from The Wicked Newfoundlander (see all)