I love the heartiness of beef bone broth and the rich, warm flavor of chicken or turkey bone broth. But some days, I’m in the mood for a light, delicate broth—and that’s when I head straight for the kitchen and cook up a batch of fish bone broth.
Fish bone broth has a lovely flavor if you drink it straight from the mug, and it also makes a wonderful base for soups—especially Asian-influenced soups. And in addition to the wrinkle-blasting collagen and fat-burning nutrients you get from bone broth, fish bone broth gives you a healthy dose of iodine to keep your thyroid happy.
Some people are a little intimidated by the idea of making fish bone broth. However, it’s as simple as can be! Just be sure to use bones from a non-oily fish, because the oils in fatty fish like salmon can develop an off taste if they cook for a long time. Also, make your broth on the stove rather than in a slow cooker, because it cooks very quickly.
Sourcing fish bones for broth is simple, too. Simply ask your butcher to save carcasses for you—or visit good fish restaurants, which often buy whole fish, and ask if they can supply you with bones. It’s a win-win situation for everyone: Your suppliers can recycle bones they’d otherwise toss out, and you get those bones for a very small price—or often even for free). How’s that for a good deal all around?
Here’s my simple recipe for fish bone broth. Give it a try, and I think you’ll fall in love with it. Bon apetit!
Prep Time: 15 minutes • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Yield: Varies depending on pot size; these ingredients are sufficient for 1 gallon of broth
5–7 pounds fish carcasses or heads from large non-oily fish such as halibut, cod, sole, rockfish, turbot, or tilapia (see Notes)
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter; see page 000)
1–2 carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
2 ribs organic celery, including leafy part, coarsely chopped
2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
Purified water to just cover the bones in the pot
1 bay leaf
1–2 whole cloves
2 teaspoons peppercorns
1 tablespoon bouquet garni or a small handful of fresh parsley and 4–5 stems fresh thyme
Wash the fish and cut off the gills if present.
In a large stockpot, melt the ghee over medium-low to low heat. Add the carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Add the fish and enough water to cover it by 1”. Increase the heat to medium and bring the water to a bare simmer. Use a shallow spoon to carefully skim the film off the top of the broth. Add the bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, and bouquet garni and reduce the heat to low. Cook at a bare simmer for about 50 minutes, uncovered or with the lid askew. Continue to skim the surface as needed.
When the broth is done, remove the pot from the heat. Using tongs and/or a large slotted spoon, remove all the bones. Pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
Let cool on the counter before refrigerating. You can skim off the fat easily after the broth is chilled, if desired. When chilled, the broth should be very gelatinous. The broth will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and 3 or more months in your freezer.
Non-oily fish is necessary because the fish oils in fatty fish such as salmon become rancid in cooking.
The cartilage in fish bones breaks down to gelatin very quickly, so it’s best to cook broth on the stove top.