Fish stock is so simple to make and is a great way to use an entire fish or shrimp and keep extra or wilting produce from going to waste. This method can be used to make vegetable stock, chicken stock or any combination of flavors depending on what scraps and produce you have on hand.
First, save your leftover bones and scraps – chicken, pork and meat bones, ham hocks, shrimp shells will all make flavorful stocks. Toss your leftover scraps (not fat or skins!) in the freezer until you are ready to make your stock. Don’t forget that vegetable trimmings like the tips of carrots and celery will freeze for your rainy stock making day too. Really waste not want not is the motto here.
I’m planning a bouillabaisse (fancy name for a humble fish stew) tomorrow, so I thought I’d get a jump start by making the fish stock in advance. Sure you can buy almost any stock you need at the store, but I promise you can make your own stock for half the cost and double the flavor. Try it once and soon you’ll find yourself saving bits and scraps here and there in eager anticipation of making your own stock.
For this fish stock I’m using the shells from the shrimp I’ll be adding to the fish stew tomorrow. I also have loads of fresh veggies on hand so I’m putting those to good use, but will save any extras for future stocks. The general rule of thumb is to use the classic French mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) for your basic stock.
I generally flavor my stocks with good white wine. By good I mean something I would serve guests at dinner. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just good quality wine. I also add a little tomato paste if I have it on hand. I’ve indicated that these ingredients are optional because they are not essential to making stock. They will however boost the flavors.
2 -3 Tbs olive oil
shells from 1 lb of shrimp
2 onions, rough chopped with skins if desired
2 -3 carrots, rough chopped with peel
3 celery stalks, chopped with tips too
2-3 cloves garlic (optional)
1 1/2 quarts of water (slightly more if not using wine)
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1/3 cup tomato paste (optional)
1 tbs sea salt
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
8 – 10 sprigs fresh thyme
Saute the onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large pot. After a couple of minutes add the shrimp shells and saute over medium heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots and celery are soft, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook one or two more minutes. Add water, wine and paste (if using), salt, pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Strain the liquid into a large bowl, pressing the cooked mixture with the back of a wooden spoon to make sure you get all the intense flavor of the vegetables and shells.
Allow the stock to cool completely. Stock will keep in refrigerator if you plan to use it within a few days. If not freeze stock for up to 3 months.