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Photo: Junho Jung @ Wikimedia Commons

Fish stock for free

A great thing to attempt — if you can manage to get your head around the slight oddness of the request — is to, on your next trip down the high street, ask a fish monger for his fishheads!


  • Some fish bones and heads (dependent on how many you are able to forage!)
  • 2/3 sticks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 175 ml of white wine
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A handful of parsley


  1. Start by melting butter in a large saucepan and then adding the fishheads and bones to a large saucepan and cover with water. The fishheads should just be covered with water but not too much so as to dilute the overall flavour.
  2. Then, fry the onion, celery, and carrots until limp and soft but not brown, and then add the garlic to the mix.
  3. After 5 to 10 minutes, pour the contents of the frying pan into the pot with the fish heads and water. Add the wine and chopped parsley, and bring to a boil. Only boil the mix for a short 5 minutes — just so that the alcohol is burnt off — and then bring the mix down to a simmer.
  4. After 10 minutes, remove any scum that forms on the surface and discard it.
  5. Boil the stock for about 30 minutes and then drain out the vegetables and fish carcasses so that you are left with just a stock that you can then leave in the fridge or freezer. You could also reduce the stock down so it has a deeper flavour, and put into ice cubes in the freezer to create your own portion sizes.
  6. This is a really simple recipe that makes such a different to the taste of food through extremely simple means. It requires very little attention, virtually no cost, and doesn’t take too long to cook. You could also be creative with the ingredients thrown into the stock by substituting some of the ingredients. You could try adding fennel bulbs as well, for example, or take out the wine if it seems a bit costly!
  7. Once your stock is complete you can add it to a simple risotto, using any veggies which need to be eaten, and follow a similar pattern of cooking. Beginning with a knob of butter in a saucepan, add the risotto rice, followed by carrots, celery, perhaps some fish, 3 cups of the fish stock, and a dash of white wine, and finish with some parmesan cheese and seasoning.
  8. I found that it tasted a lot less salty and a more authentic alternative to a very simple weekday meal! Give it a try, if only to experiment with making use of waste food, and getting more depth of flavour than the alternative of a Knox oxo cube.

Tags: fish stock, risotto

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